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A Well-Timed Enchantment

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,312 ratings  ·  81 reviews
It's bad enough that Deanna has to waste her summer in France and her only friend is a mangy black cat, but now she's staring hopelessly into a well, trying to figure out what in the world to wish for.

Before she can make a wish, the cat scratches her, her watch falls into the well, and then . . . so has she! Except that now she's in medieval France, the cat is a handsome
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Deanna had a happy childhood, but now she’s fifteen and her life is in upheaval. Her parents are divorcing, and her mom just dragged Deanna to France to spend the summer with some relatives. The girl can’t speak French and feels alienated among her family. Her only solace is prowling the countryside around Aunt Emilie’s house. Also prowling is a stray black cat, whom Deanna names Oliver and befriends.

One of these aimless days, Deanna stumbles upon an ancient well and, bored and frustrated beyon
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I don't particularly like cats in real life, but I've noticed recently that they are generally a lot more appealing in fiction. A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde has a cat that's cool like that.

The story starts when Deanna, a fifteen-year-old spending the summer with her mom in France, drops her Mickey Mouse watch down a well. Turns out the well isn't your average well: it's magic. To make matters worse, Deanna didn't drop her watch into the well, she dropped it into medieval Franc
Amanda Maria
This is a book I randomly picked up because it looked interesting. It is very short and because of this the story seemed to be very abrupt. Different parts of the story seemed to be randomly thrown in and it didn't make much sense. I thought the overall concept of the story was good but the execution was poor. The author spent a lot of time on describing insignificant details but then would throw others quickly into the plot that made no sense. I certainly could have done without the random roma ...more
This was a fun and clever story, but it's definitely written for the younger ages of the young adult genre. Oliver was my favorite character, I'm not sure if it was because of his origin or something else but he was the most entertaining. The ending was sweet and not completely predictable, at least until you get closer to finishing the book. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA/ MG fiction that involves time travel.
Oct 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Like William Sleator, Vande Velde is one of the writers I read compulsively when I was about 12 or 13, even though I was often surprised at the rather dramatic shifts in quality from work to work. This novel is not one of Vande Velde’s worst, though neither is it one of her best. It is, however, one I’ve read before—something I realized only halfway through, which suggests that this is also one of her more forgettable books. Yeah: there’s really not all that much of note here. While on vacation ...more
Joanne Roberts
The story follows Deanna as she vacations with her mother in the French countryside. It isn't long before Deanna and a neighborhood cat end up enchanted by fairies back in medieval France on a desperate quest. The humor borders on the ridiculous. Horn Book calls it "slapstick." But what bothered me this second time through (thirty years later) was the helpless heroine.

Deanna tries to take charge of her situation, but she spends a lot of time getting interrupted, shoved around, and
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, fantasy
There's two kinds of good YA books. The first are great when you're young, but you grow up and realize... hey, this is just as good when I'm an adult! Maybe good in a different way, but good no less.

The other kind is great when you're young, and when you revisit it as an adult you find its just... not quite like you remember.

This is one of the latter. Its not a bad book, either as an adult or a child, but it doesn't distinguish itself either. The plot is a bit simplistic, the characterization is
Mar 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: timetravel, cats
Cats. And time-travel. And Vivian Vande Velde, who, according to my cousin, is always amazing. Three out of three.

And it was pretty dang awesome. It took me a while to really get into it, probably because of Deanna - she just wasn't -that- interesting of a character... by herself. But once Oliver got humanified? Her interactions with him really made the book.

Scratch that. Oliver made the book. I adore cats, they're my favorite animals, but I think I'd be too terrified to try to write a humanifie
Denae Christine
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
VVV and Eoin Colfer write some of the shortest endings!
I like a little "settle down" time. More than five pages. Not one hundred (bother some authors), but at least VVV made it clear how the story would continue. I just wanted to read about it!
Oliver's character was well-done and not too ridiculously heroic. He got food poisoning! Not too ridiculously romantic either.
Deanna was a little oblivious, but most book-characters are. She was realistic, though, and messed up in the most absurd ways.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Usually I really like books by this author, but this one was something of a chore to get through. Despite being told she was on a super important quest to save the world, the protagonist just sort of ambles through it, having things happen TO her but not really making things happen. The book could easily have been called "Deanna Is Wrong About Everything." It would have worked better as a running joke. In contrast, Oliver is odd but not consistent - sometimes he seems to understand what's going ...more
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of light fantasy
A delightful light fantasy with unique fair folk/elves and an enchanted well which is the tool Velde uses to bring Deanna to another world. One of my favorite characters in this story was Oliver, though I won't say why. I don't want to ruin the little surprises he brings to this tale.
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-the-best
I have no words to praise it because it's sooooooo AMAZING.....AWESOME work......;D
If you like fairly straightforward fantasy adventure stories with some wry humor tossed in and can forgive some semi-ridiculous plot points and characterization, you’ll enjoy this book. Also, a cat turns into a human boy! How can you resist that? I know I can’t.

I picked up this book at a used bookstore because I have some serious nostalgia for Vivian Vande Velde books (her Companions of the Night is one of my top favorite vampire books EVER; pretty incredible standing given it’s YA) and hadn’t
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having loved Vande Velde's Companions of the Night, I NEEDED more of her work, and this one sounded fun. Oh, it was.
It's on the young side of YA, unlike Companions of the Night, but that doesn't detract from the fun. It's a little bit silly, a little bit witty, and very adorable. And the ending-- I'm beginning to wonder if open endings are Vande Velde's thing-- is perfect. A good all-ages read!
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I remember receiving this for Christmas one year (can't remember what year though...) and I was so surprised the main character had my name! I've loved it ever since. Spent a lovely afternoon in the sun re-reading this.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Ok so, I would never actually recommend this book to anyone, but it's a fairly classic take on the early 90s ya genre before it got all how it is today, and for the nostalgia factor alone, I enjoyed it.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fantasy
Just as charming as I remember. More adventure-packed and full of action than I remember, which was great fun to rediscover. Vivian Vande Velde continues with her more-complex-than-expected characters. And Oliver. Oh Oliver. <3 ...more
Alice  Rose Sea
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
It was cute.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book years ago as a pre-teen, and I loved it! I couldn’t remember the name but after lots of searching, found it. Excited to revisit this one.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Deanna accidentally drops her watch down a magic well, where it is transported to Medieval France. Elves send Deanna and her cat-transformed-into-a-person on a quest to retrieve the watch. Deanna is just stupid and helpless- bumbling along expecting everyone else to do her work for her. The medieval character were weird in a stereotypical-fairy-tale way. Parts of it were even cartoonish. The story premise was good, though.
This early work lacks a spark that shows up pretty reliably in later ones, methinks--it just reads like a short story that was stretched out. I did like the way Deanna was sort of dragged into taking charge, forced by events into becoming an active agent rather than a passive victim.
Apr 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: time travel fans
I wish there was the option to give half stars. This book isn't great, but it's simple and I enjoyed reading it. It probably won't stay in my mind for too long, but like Famous Five adventures, the fun lasts as long as you're reading it.

It's about a girl called Deanna who accidentally drops her watch into an enchanted well and is assigned the mission to get it back. The well is sorta like a time machine, and is guarded by irresponsible and sarcastic "elves", who send her back to medieval France
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I thought this was one of Velde's weaker books. The dialogue is a little worse than usual, the plot holes a little bigger, and the ending a tiny bit less conclusive.

I don't particularly like the transition from cat to human mindset. For example, this dialogue bugs me: "Do you think I can go back after this? Be happy with what I was: rubbing against people's legs for attention, coughing up hairballs, eating mice in the barn?"

We don't exactly see Oliver slowly becoming more human and liking it.
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is another book by Vivian Vande Velde, and yet another good one from her.

The story is about Deanne who is spending her summer in France (not enthusiastically, I will add.) She stops at a well in the forest, and starts to make a wish. Her Mickey Mouse watch falls off and drops into the well.

That would be bad if all she had lost was her watch. But, because the watch fell through a time portal, a variety of things were set in motion. A few things are set to happen like the total lack of a feud
I didn't enjoy this as much as some of Vivian Vande Velde's other books, but A Well-Timed Enchantment has a certain whimsical, almost fairy-tale like feel to it that's very different compared to her other books, and I think it just took me by surprise.

The beginning is very hard to get into, but all of the sudden I was almost finished with it, so it ends up being a very absorbing, if short, read. And while the beginning and middle parts are a little lacking, the ending is so good that it makes up
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is a strange mix of modern and faerie-tale. Although it begins as an ordinary girls french vacation, it soon turns into a medieval adventure "just north of 1066". With her cat Oliver, Deanna is forced to go on a quest to find her time-traveling timepiece, before it changes the course of history, and eliminates her entire world. Forced to face two bad-mannered fair folk, a possibly dangerous wizard, a pair of jealous lovesick brothers and a romantic rival, Deanna is in for the quest of ...more
Katrina Sutton
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen-fantasy
I have had "A Well-Timed Enchantment" on my to read list for the last couple of years. I finally decided to delve into it just yesterday. This reminds me of the books I used to read in the 90s (which of course, this book was written in 1990.) Every decade, books are a little different and I favor books from the 90s since that was the decade I was growing up. I read this book with delight and loved how the cat turns into a human. He falls in love with the main character. I just wish there was mor ...more
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was just too adorable! I loved the story and, as always, Vivian Vande Velde wove some laughs into her delightful tapestry.

Deanna has accidentaly lost something in the past - something which will change the course of history if she cannot find it within a day's time. So she is drawn back into medival France by a couple of (well meaning) slightly eccentric Elves. With a cat-turned-human to aid her she sets out to complete her quest.

Hilarious and sweet this was a great book! I adored it!
Serra Rogers
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book personally. The girl, Deanna was likeable, a little annoying in some ways, but I loved Oliver the most. He was funny and very caring and it was cute how he was so confused all the time. It wasn't THE greatest book I've ever read, but it was wonderful for it's genre of falling into a well and being transported back in time. I've never really seen anything else like it, except maybe the Japanese manga/anime Inuyasha, but I couldn't really compare them since the only thing in commo ...more
t g
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books, 4-stars
Vivian Vande Velde is awesome. She has a great style: dark fantasy with dry humor tossed in, along with a boat load of other ingredients that all come together in some awesome way. It's fantastic.

This has got to be on my Top 5 List when it comes to books by this author.

I'm not going to go to in-depth in this review, but let's just say although it's short and meant for a younger-ish audience, the ending still left me aching for more, the plot was still wonderfully paced, and the characters were
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Vivian Vande Velde (born 1951, currently residing in Rochester, New York) is an American author who writes books primarily aimed at young adults.

Her novels and short story collections usually have some element of horror or fantasy, but are primarily humorous. Her book Never Trust a Dead Man (1999) received the 2000 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel. She says that she really likes to write for

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