This week’s TGIF over at GReads! is:
“Pimp Your Review: Feature a favorite book review you’ve written in the past that you feel deserves more love!”
So, without further ado, my review of Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment, from back in July, 2011.
I first read Enchantment on the recommendation of my cousin (the same one who furnished me with Mercedes Lackey’s Fairy Godmother and numerous other books).
I’ll admit, I was a little leery of starting because I hadn’t enjoyed Ender’s Game that much, but I was pleasantly surprised with Enchantment. I’m a sucker for old faerie tales. As such, I’m always looking for novels based in my favorite stories, so this adaptation of the Baba Yaga tales was right down my alley.
Card does an amazing job of weaving the Russian lore into a plot full of time-travel and culture clashes between a 9th century Christian princess and the modern-day Jewish scholar who rescues her (ala Sleeping Beauty). Their relationship progresses slowly, but so naturally that to speed things up or soften their biases would ruin the sense of triumph at the end.
This book tackles some pretty heavy topics if you stop and think about it. Antisemitism is one very important theme, as is the struggle between faith/magic and science. Religious identity, cultural ties, and the power of oaths and promises also play integral parts in the unfolding of the story. Despite these topics though, the book is never (in my opinion) heavy-handed or abrasive. Instead, it delivers a very cleanly written story with realistic and likable characters. As a reader, I could understand their prejudices, sympathize with their struggles, enjoy their growth as people, and ultimately rejoice in their successes.
And, of course, Baba Yaga makes a wonderful villain. Card fleshes her out into an interesting character in her own right. Perfectly malicious and conniving, she makes a great counterpoint to the sincere Ivan and his strong princess. Even in the modern world, where she is relatively powerless and completely out of her element, her patience and cunning make her an adversary that is truly fearsome – I would not want this Baba Yaga to even be aware of my existence, much less have her as an enemy.
Anyways, a very well-written story with excellent pacing and a fun twist on the Sleeping Beauty story as well as the Baba Yaga folklore. I highly recommend it, though I will say, it’s very different from Ender’s Game and those stories, so if you’re expecting that style, you’ll be thrown off – not necessarily disappointed, but definitely surprised. I happen to prefer the style Card uses in Enchantment, so I quite enjoyed it!