Dec 22, 2008

Enchantment

by Orson Scott Card

In this reworking of an old fairy tale in a modern setting, Sleeping Beauty runs headlong into some Slavic history and folktales, particularly that of Baba Yaga. The main character of Enchantment is Ivan, a young college student who while visiting the Ukraine to do research discovers a sleeping princess in a forest clearing, frozen in time. Ivan manages to free the princess, but finds himself catapulted back a thousand years to her village, where in order to save Katerina's kingdom he must become her betrothed. Only, he's already engaged back in his own time. And he finds that in spite of the extensive research he's done on Slavic culture, living in Katerina's world requires him to rework a lot of assumptions. Further along in the story Ivan and his princess wind up in the present day, where she in turn has to adjust to some serious culture shock. Through it all they struggle to make sense of their relationship and battle the persecution of the witch Baba Yaga.

Years ago when I first read this story I found it captivating. I liked reading about how the assumptions Ivan and Katerina made about each other's worlds were continually challenged. I even enjoyed the constant arguments the characters had about language, and the examination of gender roles. The mixture of magic and fantastical events with practical thinking and a modern setting also intrigued me (perhaps more so than in Magic Street). But the second time I tried to read this book it really fell flat for me. The characters felt really one-dimensional. The constant bickering between Ivan and Katerina got on my nerves, and the tangents from the storyline lost me before I made it through fifty pages. It's also got quite a bit of violence, which I didn't enjoy reading about. Even today, when I picked up a copy from the library to remind myself more of this book, I wasn't able to read it again. But it was pretty entertaining the first time around.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 390 pages, 1999

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7 comments:

Eva said...

You know, when I read this, the coolest thing was definitely the plot. So I can see it not standing up to a reread!

____Maggie said...

Jeane, stopped by to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Bloggie New Year!

jennysbooks said...

I like some of Orson Scott Card's books, but I'm not even sure I made it all the way through Enchantment. I had exactly the same problem as you did - I couldn't stand the bickering.

Merry Christmas (a bit late)!

Melanie said...

I tried listening to this on my Ukraine trip; I didn't finish it, thinking it was just my difficulty with audio books. But I tried reading it when I got home and just couldn't do it.

writer2b said...

I need to read another Card book... but this one sounds like it wouldn't be the one. Maybe one of the Ender books.

Susan said...

I have this on my TBR pile, I was supposed to read it this past year. I really want to, it seems to get either raves or dislike, so I'm curious, and I have liked his previous books. Good review, Jeane!! Interesting that you didn't like it second time around as much as the first time.

Jeane said...

I read it the first time as a teenager, and found the plot engaging enough that some flaws just didn't bother me, which really became annoying on a second read. Or maybe I just matured a bit as a reader...