Author: Julie Berry
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fantasy/Fairytale
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Having been recently appointed chairwoman of the committee for previewing books for my 12-year-old sister, I made a trip to the library this past week in search of some new titles for her. I'd never read anything by Julie Berry before, but the teaser on the back of the book sounded interesting, so I picked it up.
Fifteen-year-old Lucinda was taken in by her uncle and step-aunt after the deaths of her parents. Though her parents were wealthy nobles, Lucinda's relatives are struggling to keep their jewelry shop afloat and she is forced to work as an unpaid servant in the shop.
Naturally, things don't stay that way forever. In a single day, a mysterious woman comes to the shop with a remarkable jewel she wants reset, and the crown prince himself shows up looking for a gift to give his betrothed. In a fairy tale, that's a recipe for big change, which is exactly what takes place.
I truly enjoyed this book. Beneath the gorgeous cover art, the action and slower scenes were paced remarkably well, the plot kept me guessing without being terribly vague, and the characters were well-rounded and lovable - if infuriating at times.
A couple of minor things that bothered me:
1. The lack of a solid, definable worldview. I understand this book is not categorized as a 'Christian' book, so I don't expect it to behave like one. Still, the main character Lucinda has apparently been raised Catholic, but she doesn't consider herself particularly devout or pious, rather casually blaming the fact on her step-aunt never allowing her to go to Mass. I suppose her somewhat flippant attitude towards her religion is what bothers me, even though it's not the religion I hold myself.
2. One of the major turning points that resolves the plot at the end of the book has a mild flavor of being contrived - to my tastes, anyway. The book still ends well and the plot wraps up all its loose ends satisfactorily, however, in spite of that. I won't say more, lest I spoil something!
All in all, The Amaranth Enchantment was a fun and delightful read. I don't plan on giving it to my sister to read right away, but in a couple years or so I think she'll enjoy it as much as I did!