Heather's Reviews > Enchantment

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
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Jul 27, 2010

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bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, 2011
Recommended to Heather by: Gema
Read from July 17 to 29, 2011

My sister, my boyfriend and I recently started a bookclub. They share similar reading tastes, which consist more of a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that the type of books that typically top my reading list. But, I thought it would be a good time to try new things. Last month, Zach picked Enchantment by Orson Scott Card for our group to read.

I think Enchantment was a good starter book to ease me into the genre (this one was fantasy). For instance, it started out without a trace of anything bizarre going on at all – Although, the first chapter seemed to have a large section devoted to circumcision, which I most definitely could have done without. However, this lack of anything unusual persisted for a good five chapters, and from my point of view the book didn’t actually really get interesting until chapter ten (the book has twenty in all). Needless to say, the slow buildup left me struggling to read the book as quickly as my sister and Zach did.

Enchantment is a novel twist on the classic fairy tales we all heard growing up. It centers around a boy named Ivan, who while staying at his uncle’s house, goes for a run in the nearby woods one day and stumbles upon an alter with a sleeping girl. Not really knowing what to do, Ivan returns back to the house, and then his family moves to America. Yet, he never is able to forget the sight of the girl in the clearing no matter how many years he puts between him and that fateful day. When Ivan is working on his Dissertation, he returns back to the country of his youth to research, but is once again drawn to the spot where the girl lay sleeping. After putting up one heck of a fight against the bear who guards the girl’s body, Ivan kisses her, and it should come as no surprise that this simple act awakens the princess from her slumber. Ivan follows the girl across a bridge back and ends up back in time, at a turbulent time when an evil witch named Baba Yaga threatens the welfare of the Kingdom. Unfortunately, Ivan and the princess have troubles of their own, and can’t seem to stand being around one another for longer than a few seconds. Thus, the story focuses on the ever evolving relationship between Ivan and the Princess, as well as the fight to save the princess’s Kingdom from the hands of the conniving Baba Yaga.

There were a number of things I liked about the writing: First, the story was told from multiple perspectives, which kept things interesting. Secondly, the story began in the present day, then progressed back to the past, to the present again, and once again to the past, which made it interesting to see how the characters adapted (or didn’t) to setting which they were wildly unequipped to handle.

The main things I didn’t like about the book were the extremely slow start, many of the characters were quite annoying, the battle scene seemed rather short and weak (almost as if the author just got tired of writing and decided to skip ahead a bit to the part he found more interesting), and finally the author wrote what my sister and I refer to as a Harry Potter-esque fan-fic ending. If you have read Harry Potter, you know what we are referring to. At the very end of the final book, Rowling flashes forward in time many years (always a mistake!) to describe all the kids of our beloved Potter characters boarding a train to go to Hogwarts. It is cheesy and completely unnecessary to offer more closure to a series that in my opinion didn’t need it. This story was the same way, with a flash forward to show what the main characters lives are like years in the future. Authors need to stop doing this, and be ok with leaving a story with a little less finality. Movies do this all the time, and we don’t seem to be outraged when at the end of the journey the screen simply fades to black and the credits roll. The final chapter/look into the future of Enchantment was far less gag-worthy than Harry Potter’s ending, but still enough to make me groan.

All in all, while the latter half of Enchantment was a fun read, I didn’t feel sympathetic enough to the plight of the main characters to really care one way or the other what happened to them in the end. I read books for enjoyment, not to get fed up with the way characters act (probably one of the reasons I DESPISE the Great Gatsby). Luckily, some of the supporting characters were relief enough to make the main character bearable. Plus, Card’s writing style, laces with satire and sarcasm, was enough to keep me reading.
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