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Sunday, February 21, 2010

"The Amaranth Enchantment" by Julie Berry (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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Author Information: Julie Berry received an M.F.A in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the proud mother of 4 boys. The Amaranth Enchantment is her debut novel.

Overview: Ever since Lucinda Chapdelaine's parents didn't return from a ball one evening. She has been left to be taken care of by her uncle and aunt. For years she has been forced to live a life that she is unaccustomed to, she must work in the jewelry shop of her aunt and uncle and live without all the frills of the life she used to have with her parents.

One day the jewelry shop plays host to two very unique visitors. One visitor is a Prince looking for a piece of jewelry for his betrothed, while the other shop customer brings in a piece of jewelry that is different from any other piece of jewelry in the shop. This piece of jewelry and will set into motion a string of events that change Lucinda's life.

Lucinda's aunt agrees to clean the piece of unique jewelry but after learning later on that this particular piece belongs to the dreaded Amaranth Witch. She changes her mind and sends Lucinda to return the charm to its owner. Lucinda decides to keep the jewelry and use it as a form of leverage or possibly sell it.

That evening a street thief, named Peter, enters Lucinda's room and steals the jewelry off of her.

Lucinda is set on a course to find the missing jewelry. Along with a bunch of twists and turns, Lucinda will learn about what caused her parents death, face the evil Amaranth Witch, and possibly fall in love. However events may stand in the way that cause Lucinda from having her happily ever after.

Format: The Amaranth Enchantment, a YA novel with a bit of romance, world traveling, and a bit of fantasy element. It is 288 pages, separated into 35 chapters. It is told in the first point of view of Lucinda. It was published March 3, 2009 by Bloomsbury.

Analysis: From reading the overview the first thought that might pop into people's mind is "this is certainly a retelling of Cinderella". While there are elements of the fairy tale Cinderella in this novel, Julie Berry definitely allows her own imagination to roam and branches off from this particular fairy tale.

When first encountering this novel, I thought I had the whole story line figured out. The first couple of pages were pretty run of the mill Cinderella story and I was worried that this novel would be predictable to a T. Julie Berry definitely changed my opinion of that and I was glued to this book.

Being a debut author, Julie Berry's writing is very elegant and flows nicely. Being that this novel is supposed to be viewed as a fairy tale, there isn't much depth to the world that Berry builds, or really too much thought put into the actions and what causes which. With that said, Berry has a lot of talent, and it's very clear within this story.

Readers looking for a very in depth story line probably won't be happy with this novel. Going into Amaranth Enchantment with the idea that this is a fairy tale and not everything is going to be fleshed out and explained will help the reader. For example, Lucinda seems to fall in love very easily. Looking at this critically, the thought that she instantly falls head over heels for this guy with just one look is a little impractical. However looking at it as a fairy tale and not giving too much thought to the hows and why, really helps the story move on and be able to appreciate this story.

One slight downfall of the story is that I really feel as if this book could have been a tiny bit longer. There was such a nice set up to the story and then it was wrapped up way to quickly. There aren't many books I wish could be a bit longer and this was definitely one of those.

In the end, I enjoyed this story. It was an engaging fairy tale read that was a nice change of pace from such intense fantasy out there.

For readers going into this book just looking to enjoy a nice story without nitpicking every little detail, will find a very lovely and entertaining story. For readers looking for answers to every question and looking to have everything explained might not have as enjoyable experience and will be left with lots of questions. Going into the novel knowing that everything won't be explained will help when approaching this story.

Whichever reader you are it's evident that Julie Berry has a lot of talent and I look forward to seeing her grow and develop her talent with future novels.


Simcha said...

This looks like a fun book. I usually get frustrated with character that easily fall in love or books that aren't quite as complete as they could have been, but since you provided a warning, I think I could overlook these issues if I enjoy the rest of the book.
Thanks for the review!

Cindy said...

You're welcome :).

As long as you go in with the idea that it's a fairy tale and nothing is going to be completely explained you'll be just fine. If you think about it how did Cinderella fall in love? The same way. Same with Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, but no one expects those stories to be complete :)


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