Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Enchanted, by Alethea Kontis- Review

From Goodreads:
It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?

I like when I'm happily surprised by a book, and though it doesn't happen nearly enough, I have to say this book is more than a girly cover with a pretty dress.  I'm not sure what I expected from Enchanted but it certainly wasn't the clever blend of famed fairy tales, humour and whimsical fantasy I ate up in under 24 hours.  

Kontis has written a sweeping story with an large ensemble cast, she's encompassed at least a dozen fairy tales in various threads of her yarn and yet she's managed to keep the whole thing fast paced and deeply engrossing.  All impressive feats, but especially for a writers YA debut.

Told from the dual perspectives of our heroine Sunday, and her prince Rumbold,  Enchanted covers a lot of ground for a 305 page book.  Mixed into their star-crossed love story is the tale of Sunday's various siblings, her aunt, her mom, and Rumbolds mysterious past and family.  It's a testament to Kontis's writing that I felt attached to a large number of her characters, and equally intrigued by their back stories as I was to the primary story of Sunday and Rumbolds.  

Most of all I enjoyed the clever way Kontis wove a multitude of fairy tales into her story.  That any moment in the story could move from Enchanted's original tale to Cinderella, to Sleeping Beauty, to the Frog Prince in a matter of a few lines was fun and surprisingly fresh considering how well worn those tales are.  It becomes even more witty when you take into account how important the act of storytelling is to the main arc of Enchanted, and what role it has in Sunday's life as a creator.

Kontis also deftly balanced out traditional dark elements of the more classic Grimms tales with humour and wistfulness, creating much more depth then the Disney retellings we're all so familiar with.  Make no mistake, Enchanted will entertain you, but its not a cheap date.  It left me with a lot to think about in respect to how stories are told and how they're passed on.  As a reviewer I'm more in the business of passing them on, but it has never occurred to me before to consider how I pass them on influences their telling to the next reader (outside of the fact they might be reading the story because I suggested it).  

Fun, fascinating and unique in so many ways, I can't wait for you to read Enchanted and tell me what you think.

Enchanted, by Alethea Kontis
Published by Harcourt Children's books, May 8th, 2012
My copy provided by the publisher
Buy Enchanted on Amazon