Amaranth Enchantment

Amaranth Enchantmentby Julie Berry

Lucinda’s parents died in a carriage accident and left her orphaned.  Now she lives with her kind uncle and evil aunt, working like a slave in their jewelry shop.  One day a witch, a prince, and a thief enter the store and change her life forever.

Reaction: Cute but not great.  Basically, The  Amaranth Enchantment is a retelling of Cinderella with a few different twists.  This is fine, I like Cinderella, but not what I was expecting.  I found Lucinda a bit immature and because of that it was really hard for me to get into the romantic elements.  She just seemed way too young for anything more than a crush and her “love” for the prince seemed very superficial.  I’m also not sure I really liked all of the characters.  I suppose I could go on but I’ll stop.  Like I said, it was cute and I think it will have appeal to younger readers (I’m thinking of taking it when I booktalk to 6th graders) but I was a bit disappointed.

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Bones of Faerie

Bones of Faerieby Janni Lee Simner

Liza lives in a world much different from our own.  Liza’s world was changed when humans and faerie fought a horrible war, devastating both sides.  Liza has been brought up to believe that anything and everything to do with the faeries is bad, especially magic.  When her baby sister is born with pale, pale hair, a sure sign of magic, her father takes the baby to a hillside in the middle of the night and leaves her there to die or be taken by her own kind.  That is the world Liza knows.  When Liza herself begins to show signs of magic, she flees her small town to save herself and to save others from the horrors of her burgeoning powers.  With Liza goes her old cat Tallow, Matthew, another member of her town who is harboring his own secrets, and Allie, a young healer only just beginning to learn her own craft.  As Liza, Matthew, Allie, and Tallow embark on their journey, Liza begins to learn that the ideas drilled into her from birth may not be true, and magic may just be a saving-grace for her ravaged, war-torn country.

Reaction: Bones of Faerie is so much more than a fairy story.  It is also about war.  Liza is brought up to believe that the side of the humans was right and the faerie’s was wrong.  This black and white story of war does not do justice to the nuances of the actuality.  In real life, the humans were just as horrible to the faeries, possibly even more so, than the faeries were to humans.  War is not black and white but full of more shades of gray than possible for any one being to understand.

The story is also about abuse.  Liza’s father is verbally and physically abusive, unable to see past his own warped views of the world.  When Liza is late to work, he lashes her back leaving welts and bloody cuts.  If he were to find out that Liza was exhibiting signs of magic, he would not hesitate to slit her throat and kill her just as he killed his baby daughter.  What was fascinating, though, was the fond memories Liza carried of her father.  He taught her to hunt, to walk softly, use a bow and arrow, and to cleanly skin her kill.  He taught her many other survival techniques that come in handy to Liza while she is on her journey.  I think it is a sign of a truly great author to show the humanity of the monster.  Liza remembers both the good and the bad of the only father she’s ever known.

Of course, this story is about faerie.  It is also about so much more.  It is gripping and captivating.  It grabs you from the first line of the first chapter and carries through to the last line of the last chapter.  I cannot say enough about the awesomeness of this multi-layered tale.

Also: Janni Lee Simner wrote a short story that takes place in the same world as Liza’s called Invasive Species, which you can read here.