Saturday, March 30, 2013

An Enchanted Reading of Enchanted

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
(Harcourt Children's Books, 2012)
Format: audio CDs from library (narrated by Katherine Kellgren)

From Goodreads: "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?"

Okay, remember last year when I couldn't shut up about the brilliance of Katherine Kellgren's narration of L.A. Meyer's Bloody Jack series? And I said she would be the winner of the Audie award for Teen audiobooks? And how I was right? Well, that just shows you two things: Katherine Kellgren is a great narrator, and I know what I'm talking about. 

Now that we've established that, and keeping in mind that this year Kellgren is up against Kate Rudd's gorgeous reading of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, I am all about this particular Audies contender. (Except the cover. Not the audiobook's fault, but really, this cover is belch, right? How is her position natural or comfortable?)

Oh, Sunday! Such a classic misunderstood youngest sibling with a secret. She's the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter in a kingdom where magic is fairly commonplace, so really she shouldn't need to pour out her troubles to the frog at her local fairy well to make herself feel better. (But then again, I knew I had secret magic powers, and plenty of siblings, but it didn't stop me from turning my cat into my confidant.) Nevertheless, Sunday does end up sharing her diary with Grumble the talking frog, who they both know is enchanted, but who doesn't change when Sunday kisses him. Until, one day, he does, but she doesn't know it. She just knows that Prince Rumbold is "requesting" all eligible young ladies in Arilland to a series of balls, and her fairy godmother is on hand to assist her and her sisters in getting ready. Kontis plays with more fairy tales than I can count (or know, I'm sure) - in her household alone is a woman with many offspring living in a shoe, a tall tower with just one window at the top, a changeling son, a cursed spindle, a handful of magic beans, and, of course, birds that help with chores so Sunday will be ready in time for the ball. But nothing is straightforward, and Kontis wraps everything up in a coming-of-age framework that leaves me pondering the nature of story and the oral tradition. And pretty eager for October's publication of the second in this series, to boot.

Kellgren, of course, is perfect for this title. She has an entrancing story-time voice that gives full weight to emotional moments while never slackening the pace of the adventure. I find myself envying any children to whom she might read bed-time stories, but sorry for her, too, because I'm sure those kids would never let her go without repeatedly begging for "just one more" book. But I don't mean it's treacly or insipid in any way - and she definitely knows how to tap into a dark side for all those moments of evil and danger.

Not to be totally cheesy about it, but I was truly enchanted throughout.

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