Monday, December 17, 2012

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

So, this is another one of those books that had such a gorgeous cover that I pretty much knew I was going to buy it before even really knowing what the story was. Then of course I realized that it was a fairy tale retelling, and well, it had me at hello.
The story is mostly about Sunday and Rumbold, though it weaves together many different stories and different fairytales. Sunday grew up in a house that sort of resembles a shoe (though I kept picturing the Weasley house, the burrow). And along with her sisters who also were named for days of the week, she grows up with a mother who says few words, a father who never stops telling stories, and a two brothers (one actually adopted, whose part fey).
There is literal magic on every page. Fairy godmothers seem common. No one is surprised to run across enchanted animals that used to be princes. There’s stories about leprochauns, giants, pirate queens, fairy queens, and frog princes. Rumbold is the frog prince. He’s a frog when Sunday first meets him and first tells all her stories. Unfortunately for Sunday, she leaves before she sees the power her kiss has on him. And when Rumbold comes to as the prince he’s learned is associated with Sunday’s brother’s death, he doesn’t quite know how to tell her it is him.
There’s family feuds on all kinds of magical levels in this book. And just as I was afraid of another destined Romeo and Juliet type story, the book took on so many other strange turns, that I really had nothing to worry about. In other words, Sunday’s family’s animosity aimed toward Rumbold’s royal family was the least of the problems. Throw in evil kings, three giant balls with lots of fancy dresses, a little bit of cannibalism, lots of evil magic, a magical bean stock, attacks, fights, and plenty of magical objects and references to a plethora of tales, and this book was never dull.
I liked that there were mixed elements of both the Disney type fairy tales and the gross, more authentic tales. I also, surprisingly, ended up loving all the characters. I thought I was going to hate all the family members and confuse them as I tend to do in YA books with just too many characters to really develop all of them. I really think Kontis did a good job of introducing them all individually; it certainly helped that they were all so uniquely different. I also loved how powerful stories and words were in this book!
There were two things that kind of bothered me though. One being that sometimes there was just too much going on. The book did not need every fairy tale ever in it. It was a little too overloaded. And while I’m grateful that I got to know Sunday’s family in a way I wasn’t expecting to, I never really got to delve too deeply into the millions of stories that I wish were more detailed and spread out. I loved all the individual stories, but I just needed more. Or if more wasn’t given, I might have been satisfied with a little humor/satire, but it wasn’t that kind of jumble of fairy tales.
My other problem was the scene skipping. A lot of story happens between chapter jumps and I hate when authors do this. I wanted to see Sunday’s aunt explain all the magical powers in the family. I wanted to see Rumbold’s memories (what was his connection to the pirate queen?!). I wanted to see more of the gross/dramatic conflict at the castle with the giant and not just skip to the bean stalk…I literally stopped my reading and was confused as to how the characters were suddenly in a different place. I went back, thinking I skipped a page, but I didn’t. It just felt like the author kept skipping pages. And it was so frustrating to have my reading interrupted for something I think is a mistake on my part, only to realize it’s just a weird writing style.
Besides the scene skipping and the overload of fairy tales, I still did really enjoy this one. I loved the magic, the characters, and the love story. I’ll give it a 7/10.


  1. I've heard that she mixed in way too many fairy tales to this one. Also, that thing about important scenes being left out sounds familiar. I still kind of want to read it, but I'm not super excited at the moment.

    1. I kind of don't think you'd love it. However, isn't it so hard to not try to love books with such gorgeous covers?

  2. I'm always looking for fairytale retelling recs and this one sounds pretty good, despite its few flaws! Actually, what really grabs me about it is your description that it has a good balance of Disney-style fairy tales and Brothers Grimm gruesome style fairy tales - that sounds actually perfect!!