Author: Alethea Kontis
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Date: May 8, 2012
Genre: YA- Fantasy
Sunday is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and her mere existence is its own, special kind of magic. Sunday loves a good story. She lives for the tall tales told to her by her father, and the myriad of stories about her infamous older siblings. Sunday also likes to write stories and she writes true stories of her family, but only the ones that have already come to pass. Stories from the past are safe, because her writing can’t hurt what has already happened. Sunday’s stories, once written, become true.
She begins to read her stories to Grumble, an enchanted frog that she meets in the woods. This is nothing out of the ordinary. It happens from time to time when a human angers a fairy and pays the price for it with his form. It’s also widely known that the only cure for such an enchantment is true love’s kiss. Sunday does indeed come to care greatly for her friend and at his request she gives him a kiss in hopes that it will set him free. At the end of every story she gives Grumble a kiss but still he remains a frog. Wanting only to help him, Sunday does the one thing she can think of to save him and writes her love in a story.
Sunday was nothing until she met Grumble-a beautiful man, with the soul of a poet. He was her best friend in the whole wide world, and she loved him with all her heart.
And as Sunday’s stories are truth, so is her love and Grumble will be released from the spell. But the form he returns to isn’t one that Sunday could ever allow herself to love.
Stories can be intensely powerful things. A good story, once told, wriggles its way inside you, settles in and begins to work away, taking what it needs to become a living, breathing thing. Stories are greedy, and they feed off of belief. Oh how I love books that focus on the power of stories! There’s nothing that can pull me into a book like the suggestion that words can indeed create something that didn’t even exist until it was believed. Terry Pratchett has told me time and time again that, “You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?” Books are so powerful and stories are so meaningful! Just think about the things you believe (or really really want to) because of a book.
Enchanted is a true fairy tale, of the old sort where not everything is pretty and more stories end badly than not. Nothing is ever as it seems in fairy and it’s always good advice to be careful what you wish for. Kontis takes all of the places you’ve ever visited in fairy tales and weaves together a richly imaginative world where all the make believe is truth. I was loath to give it up in the end because having caught glimpses of such places throughout my reading life, it rather felt like home. It’s a hodgepodge of many stories but the characters are entirely original creations, intermixed with classic heroes to such an expert extent that it was easy to believe that all those stories, written oh so long ago, were only ever about the characters in this book. It takes a highly advanced magic to completely alter the way you’ve envisioned something you’ve held fast to since childhood. I have so much love for Sunday, who embodies everything you could ever want in a fairy tale heroine.
This is one of those “happy sigh” books, because you feel quite content after reading it. I had a great deal to think on after the last page. It’s always interesting when an author seems uncomfortable with the idea of having a “bad guy” in a story. No, I’m not talking about redeeming a bad guy. I’m never a fan of that. If you’re going to write evil, let evil be evil just for the sake of being evil and refrain from the urge to save everyone. I’m talking about evil in terms of the end justifying the means, so to speak. I won’t go into too much detail here because it will spoil it but the king and Sorrow’s story is a perfect example and an oh so very sad one.
Five points for use of a variation of the word susurrus.
*Quote taken from an ARC of Enchanted and may differ in the finished copy. Thanks to the publisher for this truly amazing gift.