The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

Summary: Lucinda Chapdelaine’s parents died in a tragic accident ten years ago and ever since she has worked as a servant in the jewelry shop of her uncle and cruel stepaunt.  She has no hope of a better life until the day the Amaranth Witch visits the shop, bringing with her a magical jewel that can control the fate of the country.  When the jewel disappears, Lucinda must retrieve it in order to reclaim her birthright.

Review: Berry strives for originality and depth in this retelling of “Cinderella,” but ultimately fails to bring anything new to the story.  A few changes in detail suffice to give the tale a twist: Lucinda lives with her evil stepaunt rather than her evil stepmother; she drops her shoe, but reflects on the consequences of running barefoot and decides to retrieve it; etc.  The work contains more than a few stock characters and cliche situations, which some readers may excuse in a fairy tale retold or as a result of a first publication attempt.  However, with so many retellings currently on the market, the failure either to utilize or to subvert those conventions so as to shed light on a new aspect of the story does not give readers any reason to choose Berry over another author.  Even more troubling is the lack of motivation behind the plot, which threatens to disengage readers from the work; it becomes difficult to invest one’s self in a story when the author so often does not explain the actions of the characters.  The Amaranth Enchantment does make for an enjoyable afternoon’s read, especially if one loves fairy tales, but it never raises itself above a merely pleasant story.

Published: 2009

7 thoughts on “The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

  1. Melanie says:

    Thanks for the review! I think I’ll give it a try, because I love fairy tales. It will be nice to compare our opinions (eventhough I’m not sure when I’m going to read it, since I’ve so many other books waiting to be read.)

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    • Krysta says:

      Oh definitely don’t let my review discourage you from reading the book! It was interesting and I enjoyed it while I was reading it. After I thought about the story, however, I decided it could have been better constructed. It’s always nice to have a new fairy tale retelling, however, even when it doesn’t quite live up to everything you might have expected from it. Let us know what you think of the book once you read it!

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    • Briana says:

      I enjoyed the book, too. I would just classify it as a fun, light read and not the next great American novel. It has a lot of stock pieces, like the friendly thief, but sometimes that’s all you want in a book!

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  2. George says:

    Hmm, I gave it four stars when I read it back in 2011, but now I’m having a hard time remembering the story itself. Either it’s my age catching up to me or it didn’t grip me as much as I thought it did.

    Since I recently gave Berry’s “The Secondhand Charm” only 3 stars, I’m guessing if I reread “The Amaranth Enchantment” I’d downgrade it to 3 stars as well. I like how your review puts it, “…[it] does make for an enjoyable afternoon’s read, especially if one loves fairy tales, but it never raises itself above a merely pleasant story.” I’ve gotten attached to those sort of books as I grow older, but they also don’t have a tendency to worm their way into your soul.

    Anyway, a shout out to Jenna St. Hiliaire who recommended your blog as one to follow.

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    • Krysta says:

      Sometimes I have trouble reviewing books because I enjoy them while I’m reading them but, upon reflection, realize they’re lacking in construction, characterization, etc. We don’t do a star system, but I might have given it four stars, too, when I first finished it simply because it gripped me as I was reading. On occasion, I will knock stars off my reviews on Goodreads once some time passes and I think about the story more. I think one of the traits of a good book is its re-readability and, if I decide I’ll probably never pick up the book again and it’s going to be donated, away goes a star. The Amaranth Enchantment lacked the re-readability element for me. However, if you like fairy tale retellings, it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon. I, for one, don’t always feel like I have the mental capacity to pick up something like Dostoevsky by the time I get home at the end of the day.

      I haven’t read The Secondhand Charm, but it’s been on my radar for awhile. If I ever see it in the library, I’d be willing to check it out.

      Jenna has a great blog herself!

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      • George says:

        True, Dostoevsky does take a bit of work to get into. Although I count The Brothers Karamazov as one that’s stuck with me even though I haven’t read it in years. There are just things in it one doesn’t forget.

        I should’ve mentioned that when I think of stars I’m usually referring to how I rated them on Goodreads. Anyway, I think “The Secondhand Charm” would be quite similar to “Enchantment” as far as quality of story, construction, & characterization. So, something decent to read if you can get a hold of it, but not something you should necessarily go out of your way to get.

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        • Krysta says:

          I think I’ve only read Crime and Punishment, though I started another one by him I never finished. 😦 It’s good to hear your opinion of Secondhand Charm. I’ll keep an eye out at the library.

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