Tuesday, 19 June 2012

EnchantedEnchanted by Alethea Kontis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is it my fate that I must read books that get my hopes soaring only to get them dashed on the rocks of bitter disappointment?! Every part of me wanted to like this, and there were some points that I did, though mainly in the beginning. However the further I delved, the greater my confusion, frustration and befuddlement (I am aware befuddlement and confusion mean the same thing. I use both to emphasise the depths of my perplexity) over a story that wasn't really sure what it wanted to be. Was it a sweet and heart warming fairytale of love and redemption, a dark and twisted thing that the brothers Grimm themselves would be proud of, full of wicked spells and dangerous obstacles? Maybe a coming of age story shrouded in fantasy? A mystery, family saga...? In truth it was a mixture of all, yet none of the elements to me,seemed to get on very well with each other. It plot conveyed an sense of not being sure in which direction it wanted to go, or whether to go in all directions at once.

We add to this already confusing mix the storyline itself. I believed this to be a re-telling of the Frog Prince, yet what it proved to be was far more cluttered. Though the Frog Prince is at it's core, many other classic fairy tales make an appearance, burdening an already weighty plot. The end result was not quite chaos, but it was within spitting distance of becoming a broiling concoction of far too much told with far too little. By this I mean that rather than deepening the story, exploring more the relationships of her many characters, the author seemed far more concerned with squeezing in as many fairytale references as she possibly could, most of them shoved in with what felt like little thought to how they worked as a whole. What this resulted in was a hodgepodge tale which got more and more bizarre and random as the book drew to a close. It all just seemed a bit, untidy.

I wanted to explore the blooming relationship of Sunday and her froggy companion. I would have liked to uncover a little more the mystery of the Godmother Sorrow and the nameless King, the tale of the sister's who were gone and the enigmatic Jack who never actually appears. The author introduced us to so much but didn't seem overly fussed about digging deeper. It's not a particularly hefty volume. A few more chapters could have worked wonders on a plot that overall felt a little heavy and cluttered and could have done with a bit of stretching out.

The best way I can sum up 'Enachanted', is by likening it to a dream, of the kind that will one minute have you sitting on a bus playing a game of cards with Papa Smurf, the bloke who works down the local newsagents and a trilby wearing panda, then suddenly transport you to the depths of the ocean and leaves you completely unconcerned by the sudden change in scenery, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, or simply unaware of it the change altogether. There was simply too much going on, each element a part of different a puzzle that won't fit together no matter how much you try.

However, after all that, I did still give it three stars. The reason, is that you strip everything back, there are fragments of light hidden beneath to fog. At it's heart, there are characters you can like, an ambitiousness on the part of the author in her attempt to weave so many threads together, though she may have lost sight of the essence of the true plot, that I have to admire and the simple fact that I didn't dislike it. There was still something that drew me in. That could partly be the sheer unpredictability of the plot though. Looking back, it was quite mad.

It's one of those books that, where I found fault, others might find charm, inventiveness and a story that certainly leaves you guessing.

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