Lucinda Chapdelaine lived a happy life with her parents – until the day they left for a ball and never returned. Sent to live with a distant uncle and his vengeful wife, Lucinda merely gets by working in her aunt’s jewelry shop. Then one day a mysterious woman enters the shop, with an equally mysterious gem stone. Before she knows it, Lucinda’s life is forever changed as she sets off on a path to reclaim her inheritance. Taken in by the Amaranth Witch, Beryl, Lucinda faces situations she never thought she would face – including dancing! - and encounters surprising allies, dangerous foes and – of course – a handsome prince.
I saw a review for Julie Berry’s The Amaranth Enchantment on the Book Smugglers blog and was intrigued enough to purchase a copy for my Kindle. I trust the Book Smugglers’ opinions and, like many times before, I was steered in the right direction. The Amaranth Enchantment is a part fantasy, part fairy tale, with elements of Cinderella, and yet is still grounded in a real world. There’s a strong heroine and her stalwart supporters, a proper villain (who’s immortal, naturally), a dreamy prince (literally – in several scenes, he’s sleepy, having just woken up), thieves, magical godmothers and an exceptionally intelligent goat named Dog. Berry’s writing style is often described as “lyrical” and that’s appropriate. It was easy to fall under the spell of her words as she wove her tale. The descriptions of the kingdom and its various gardens, the image of Princess Beatrix as having been spun from sugar – all combine to give readers a vivid picture of this enchanting world.
As the heroine, Lucinda is easily the star of this novel. She has spirit, wit, intelligence, compassion and determination. While she’s certainly not perfect (her efforts to avoid embarrassing herself in front of Prince Gregor are particularly charmingly awkward), Lucinda’s best quality is that she tries. Even when things go horribly wrong, she still tries her best in every situation. I also especially liked how Lucinda stood up to Peter, the thief. She didn’t let him get away with talking his way out of the situation. She often called him out on his bad behavior and didn’t let herself get swept away by a foolish infatuation.
One particular complaint comes from the novel’s ending. Though I was quite invested in making sure Lucinda achieved her happy ending, the conclusion of the novel’s dramatic conflict felt too convenient. The resolution left out mention of a few characters and their fates while one specific twist seemed to come from out of thin air. (I do apologize for being vague, but I don’t want to ruin the ending for anyone else.) Mostly, though, I wanted more. The brief mentions of Beryl’s “world” tempted me. I wanted to know more, to understand what Berry was trying to convey with Beryl’s character. It felt like an important thread in the story’s plot that was never fully explored. I hope Berry considers writing another novel that delves into Beryl’s history and future. There’s so much more to her than what’s contained in this novel.
With a plot that moves quickly and keeps you turning the pages and a heroine with all the very best qualities, Julie Berry’s The Amaranth Enchantment is a charming and delightful novel for fans of fantasy and fairy tales. It does skew a bit younger than typical young adult novels, but there’s still plenty for readers of all ages to enjoy.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]