Amelia, the pragmatic idealist's Reviews > Secondhand Charm

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
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Jan 07, 2011

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bookshelves: all-kinds-of-fantasy, ya-kids-teen, 2011, point-of-view-girl
Read from December 31, 2010 to January 02, 2011


Every once in awhile a book comes along that you'd never heard of before and would have otherwise missed entirely. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of Secondhand Charm and bringing author Julie Berry to my attention. I'm going to have to check out her other novel - The Amaranth Enchantment, because I certainly liked this one.
First of all, the timing of this novel was perfect. I'd just finished The Knife of Never Letting Go, a powerful but emotionally exhausting novel and was really looking for an upbeat, entertaining weekend read. And Charm didn't disappoint. Personally, I just have a soft spot for sweet, fairytale-ish books that aren't complicated or convoluted or loooooong.
Oh, and have I mentioned how much I love creativity and originality? The magic in this book was very intriguing, and I loved the concept of the serpentina. It's always fun to read something with a truly unique feel :)
So while I did love the magical elements, I never really felt engrossed by the concepts.
And I think it's because the book spent a lot of time focusing on the life of the main character, Evie, in her small, simple village, which is good, but ultimately didn't really have a lot to do with the overall story. So we don't even meet the "magical creature" (don't want to drop a spoiler) until 100 pages in, and we don't begin to understand the magical elements until halfway in, which didn't leave a lot of time for all of the elements to come together.
Also (and this is entirely just a personal thing), Evie was a little hard for me to warm up to. See, she has this unyielding, extremely focused dream: she wants to study at university. No matter what happens (and some pretty darn extraordinary things happen), she wants what she wants. And for someone like me, who is on the brink of a major life crossroads, that just kind didn't resonate with me. How can you be that bent on what you want? How do you even know what you want? I guess there just really didn't seem to be any depth, any internal struggle to her, and so that was a little underwhelming. Plus the romance was pretty nonexistent, at least for me. It didn't really come together until the end, either, and left a lot to be desired...
Interestingly enough, Secondhand Charm is one of those books where I ended up liking the villain character more than the protagonist. The villain in this story - first of all - didn't really seem all that "evil" and whatnot, and s/he (again, trying not to spoil anything) seemed to have way more personality than our extremely goal-oriented main character, so that was pretty enjoyable.
Do you guys ever find yourself secretly rooting for a story's "bad guy"?

Overall, this was a pleasant, fun, and entertaining read. It was a quick read, but definitely memorable. And again, the magical premise was incredibly creative. I'd definitely recommend Secondhand Charm to all ages - cute, creative, and clean.
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Reading Progress

01/01/2011 page 40
11.0% "Very cute! Love the writing style. So far, I really like it :D"

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Laura Wow, I just finished this book last night and when I checked Goodreads this was the first review I saw!
I felt the same about a lot of the things you said in your review: the character development, the village setting, and the magic, but I still really enjoyed the novel. I would highly recommend reading The Amaranth Enchantment...I loved that book and it was the reason I picked up this book. Julie Berry is an author I'm keeping on my watch list, I like her writing style.


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