Review: Enchantment

Yesterday, Camille Peters released her latest book in the Kingdom Chronicles, and I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC. Enchantment is a loose adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" about a merchant's daughter who finds herself trapped in a castle by an enchanted garden. It takes place in the same world as the other Kingdom Chronicles books, which I've had some mixed feelings about. My favorite by far is Identity, which was the first in the series to introduce a formidable villain. Enchantment has some conflict and adversaries, but none of it comes into play until the last few chapters. The majority of the book is a traditional love story, which works fine if you are looking for a peaceful read. However, if you are seeking action and adventure, it might be better to skip ahead to the end.

Enchantment by Camille Peters

Enchantment begins in the middle of Maren's story, when she finds herself bound to the grounds of a castle after plucking a rose from its enchanted garden. She explains to the flowers and the prince she finds that she ran away from home after her father forced her into a marriage agreement. It's a shame that the book doesn't go into detail about her daring escape or the specific reasons she doesn't want to marry Lord Brone as seeing how she got along with her father and how her fiancĂ© treated her would have made it a lot more interesting. Instead, Prince Briar takes her into his care immediately after hearing about her situation and promises to protect her from her father and her unwanted engagement. After that, the book progresses toward the climax at a snail's pace. I enjoyed reading about Maren helping Briar to care for his dying father and how she interacts with the enchanted garden that holds her captive at first, but it becomes repetitive after nothing else happened for at least three quarters of the book.

Enchantment draws inspiration from "Beauty and the Beast," but it doesn't feel much like a retelling due to the lack of conflict and dark undertones that the fairy tale is known for. Instead, it flips the story on its head and pushes all of the thematic elements to the end of the book. Maren has nothing to fear from Prince Briar or his castle. Her magical imprisonment is a minor inconvenience since she was already searching for a place to hide from her father. Briar has a normal appearance and temperament and welcomes her into his home the moment they interact, which eliminates the challenge of searching for his inner beauty like in the original fairy tale. Instead, Maren is insecure about her own appearance, which is silly if she looks anything like the lovely maiden on the cover of the book. For some reason, the people in her hometown don't find her pretty. However, it is not a gender-bent retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" because a beastly curse does eventually affect the prince at the tail end of the book.

My biggest issue with Enchantment was the pacing. I think not much would have changed if it had been only half the length. It takes very little time for Maren and Briar to warm up to each other, and most of it involves them wandering around the castle and exploring the gardens together. There was a part where Maren accidentally releases some sort of dark magic, but it takes a long time for it to affect the world around her. If the effects of the darkness had taken place immediately, the book would have been more engaging. I appreciated that the author attempted to reverse the transformation of the "beast" by having him start out normal and become more temperamental at the end, but it took away any sort of challenge Maren would have had to win his love when they first met. There was no reason for Maren not to fall in love with the kind prince who welcomed her into his castle and offered protection to her. By making her father evil, the book also eliminated the sacrifice that the "beauty" character made by leaving her family in order to protect her him.

Enchantment is a safe alternative to for people who are unable to handle the darker elements of "Beauty and the Beast." It is a slow-moving romance about a girl who seeks rescue and finds love. There are also some magical elements including talking flowers and a topiary hedgehog. The story's lack of action is redeemed in the final chapters, when we are finally introduced to Maren's fiancĂ© and the challenge she must face to save Briar. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy innocuous love stories, but not those who crave the darker elements of the fairy tale. It is a new release, so buy it now if you want to be among the to first read it.

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