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Alethea Kontis – Enchanted

January 24, 2014

2. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (2012)
The Woodcutters, Book 1

Read By: Katherine Kellgren
Length: 7h 47min (308 pages)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 02 January 2014
Finished: 09 January 2014

Where did it come from? Downloaded from Audiobook Sync over the summer.
Why do I have it? Free audiobook! Plus, YA fantasy, and fairy tales, how am I supposed to resist?

Living inside a
fairy tale is more complex
than you might expect.

Summary: Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and a seventh son, and is supposedly destined for a life that’s blithe and bonny and gay. But being the youngest in a family like hers isn’t always easy. One day when Sunday is alone in the woods with her journal, she comes across a talking frog named Grumble. They quickly strike up a friendship, as listening to Sunday’s stories is almost enough to make Grumble remember parts of his life before he was enchanted, and that friendship quickly turns to love. Sunday’s kiss is enough to de-enchant the frog, who is really the young Prince. But Sunday doesn’t witness the transformation, caught up in family worries, and all she knows is that her friend is missing. Prince Rumbold, meanwhile, is trying to reclaim his life and his memory, wondering whether Sunday will still love him, despite the bad blood between her family and his, and uncovering the dark secrets that lies at the heart of his father’s kingdom.

Review: This book has a lot going on. A *lot*. And all of it is good – there’s no single piece that I didn’t like – but the way that it all is put together leaves the final product feeling jumbled and rushed.

I’ll start with the things that Enchanted does well. If you love fairy tales, this is the book for you, because: it’s got all of them. Seriously, all of them. Name a fairy tale, and there’s probably some element of it that works its way into some aspect of Sunday’s or Rumbold’s life, or their families. There are fairy godmothers and missing slippers and beanstalks and enchanted swords and just about everything else you can think of. Kontis is very clever with it, and almost everything feels organic to the story, like Sunday and the rest of the woodcutters really do live in this enchanted world, and these events that seem ordinary to them maybe are the source of all of the fairy tales that leak through to our world. (Also, hah, “Enchanted” world, see what I did there? Terrible, I know, but it is an apt description.)

I also really, really loved the characters. Sunday especially; she is smart and resourceful and kind and strong-willed, and yes, maybe she falls in love with Grumble a little easily, but on the one hand: it’s a fairy tale, and on the other hand, she has a good idea of who she is and what she wants and is not going to put up with anyone treating her badly. And on the third hand: she isn’t a damsel in distress. Even when she’s in trouble, she’s not relying on Rumbold to save her, and she’s equally responsible for saving him or her family members when they’re in trouble. As fairy tale heroines go, I liked her a lot. The other characters are equally interesting; Sunday’s siblings and parents and Rumbold’s friends and courtiers are all well-drawn, and add their own strengths to the story. (I particularly liked Sunday’s older/younger brother, the changeling Trix, maybe because he reminded me of my younger brother.)

Where things didn’t quite work for me was in the way it all fit together. The basic plot of the story – girl meets frog, girl loves frog, girl loses frog, girl finds boy who was frog but who isn’t telling her he was frog, complications ensue – flows well enough. But there is *so much else* going on that the story kept feeling like it was getting sidetracked. There’s the fate of Sunday’s eldest twin sisters, and then the past history with her oldest brother and his enchantment, and the relationships between the various fairy godmothers, and the details of Rumbold’s transformation and missing memories, and then a bit with the Pirate King (who happens to be married to another of Sunday’s sisters, and then Sunday’s suddenly learning how to do magic, and then the ghost of Rumbold’s dead mother, and then all of the freaky stuff going on with his father, and then… etc. More and more elements keep being added in as the story unrolls, and while a lot of them do come together by the end, they frequently felt like they were coming out of left field – and more than once, I glanced down at my MP3 player to make sure I hadn’t accidentally skipped a track; the shifts were that abrupt.

Apart from there not being cues to mark the large shifts in the story, the audio production was quite good. Katherine Kellgren is a very good narrator, although I’ve noticed that she has a distinct difference in her voice when she’s narrating YA books (e.g. The Kane Chronicles) vs. adult fiction (e.g. Blackout/All Clear). She does a nice job with the various voices as always, making them distinguishable and not fake-growly for the men, but for the first few chapters, I was hearing her basic YA girl voice and associating it with Sadie Kane, who is a rather different character than Sunday Woodcutter, which threw me a bit. (I got used to it eventually, though.)

So, overall, I definitely enjoyed this book, and there are a lot of strong elements present. Just… maybe too many strong elements, too fast, and I think the story might have benefitted from a little less complication and a little more room to breathe. But I still had enough fun with it, and liked Sunday and her family so much that I’ll certainly be looking out for the sequels. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Between the weaving together of lots of different fairy tales, the large family with lots of sisters, and the frog prince, this book reminded me a lot of Wildwood Dancing, although I preferred Enchanted: it’s warmer, and with more of a sense of humor. I think fairy tale fans should have fun with this book, despite (or maybe because of?) the feeling that occasionally Kontis was trying to cram All The Fairytales into the story.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bookshelves of Doom, Charlotte’s Library, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: My name is Sunday Woodcutter, and I am doomed to a happy life.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2014 3:16 pm

    I am kind of curious about this. One day I may even read it!

    • February 1, 2014 9:57 pm

      Kailana – It’s not the most brilliant ever, but it’s definitely enjoyable.

  2. January 25, 2014 5:32 pm

    I kind of forgot about this series. Is the second book out yet? I really want to read it. Thanks for the great review and the reminder!

    • February 1, 2014 9:57 pm

      Hi Annette – The second book is out… called Hero, I think?

  3. January 28, 2014 11:26 pm

    Oh, I’ve had this book on my TBR list for much, much too long! And I’m sorely tempted to try the audiobook, since I love Katherine Kellgren’s narration so much…

    • February 1, 2014 9:59 pm

      Cheryl – It’s not that old, so it can’t have been on your TBR list *that* long.

      • February 2, 2014 11:22 pm

        Long enough, especially for a book I’m this interested in :)


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