Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages/Time: 305 / 7 hours, 51 minutes
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge, Audiobook Challenge, List of Ten
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It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.
When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.
The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?
I know it's being marketed as such, but y'all, Enchanted is not a Young Adult novel. That does not mean, however, that you, a reader of any age, shouldn't take the time to read it. It is a high compliment that as I went through the story, I couldn't stop making comparisons to my favorite childhood book, Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted (and not just because of the title!) Both books are sweet and magical, they feature a brave and earnest protagonist, a prince, fairy godmothers, lots of magic, and a family (though Sunday came off much better than Ella on that front). Ella Enchanted is recommended for 8 and up, and I think Enchanted can also be enjoyed by that audience. One major difference between the two books, however, is that Enchanted gives us the extra bonus of chapters from the prince's perspective.
Let me start with the thing I loved best about this book: the Woodcutter family. They are the biggest, most adorable pot of dysfunctional functionality. I have a particularly hard time remembering lots of characters, but never once did I confuse the many names and faces that were thrown my way. Sunday, her parents, her six sisters, and three brothers all had distinct personalities, but they weren't just caricatures (for the most part). I had my personal favorites, but I really felt I got to know every one of them. I had to listen to this book away from other people because it was a little embarrassing the the number of times I got completely choked up at a touching Woodcutter moment.
Sunday's wonderful family is a stark contrast to Prince Rumbold's, who has an indifferent father and a mother he lost shortly after his birth. My experience of this book was definitely enriched by the time I spent in his head. He likes Sunday so much; it's adorable. At first it may seem completely nonsensical that he is holding three balls to get her attention--rather than go up to Sunday and tell her the truth--but you come to understand why he thinks he needs all the fuss. While I enjoyed getting his perspective, I did find several of the scenes from his point of view extremely confusing. Everything made sense in the end, but getting there was occasionally disorienting, and I wish there had been a little more explanation.
Alethea Kontis does such a fun job mixing up all kinds of fairy tales and serving them in places we least expect them. I was absolutely delighted with myself each time I stumbled upon a reference I recognized (and I'm sure there were many that I didn't). I was relieved that Prince Rumbold (Grumble) and Sunday's connection was given a little time to develop, and there was none of that love-at-first nonsense that bothers me so much in books. Though their romance was the storyline that drove most of the action, it was not the only major plot line. Readers beware! There is much intrigue and action in store for you here, but don't worry, you get all the adorable mushy stuff too.
It took me a long while to get into the voice of Katherine Kellgren. I enjoyed her interpretation, but I felt that she was inappropriately cast for the role. Sunday is an absolutely silly 16-year-old girl, and Kellgren is very clearly an adult English woman. Her voice for the prince as a frog drove me absolutely nuts. It sounded frog-like, but it also made the prince sound 65-years-old, which was totally creepy. Truthfully, I might have preferred one of those voices that they use for the middle grade contemporary novels, if only because that would have better suited the book.