Retro Friday: Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I enjoy reading retellings because I like seeing how authors adapt the foundations of an older story and make it their own. I especially like reading fairy tale retellings because I’m a sucker for fairy tales in general. My favorite retelling of Sleeping Beauty is Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment. It’s been a while since I last read it but I still have fond memories of my reading experience. Isn’t it nice when a story stays with you months or even years after you’ve read it? I thought it’s the perfect title for a Retro Friday review – an old favorite that I recommend other readers to pick up.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

EnchantmentThe moment Ivan stumbled upon a clearing in the dense Carpathian forest, his life was forever changed. Atop a pedestal encircled by fallen leaves, the beautiful princess Katerina lay still as death. But beneath the foliage a malevolent presence stirred and sent the ten-year-old Ivan scrambling for the safety of Cousin Marek’s farm.

Now, years later, Ivan is an American graduate student, engaged to be married. Yet he cannot forget that long-ago day in the forest – or convince himself it was merely a frightened boy’s fantasy. Compelled to return to his native land, Ivan finds the clearing just as he left it.

This time he does not run. This time he awakens the beauty with a kiss… and steps into a world that vanished a thousand years ago.

I liked so many things about Enchantment. I found the storyline so interesting – what if Sleeping Beauty woke up in the modern world? There’s a nice blend of modern and medieval in the setting of the story – it was fascinating to see how a medieval character reacts to the modern world and vice versa. Both Katerina and Ivan are pretty much clueless when it came to exploring the other person’s world and they had to rely on each other. As much as I love reading medieval fantasy, I never realized the inconveniences in living in that time period until I read about them in Enchantment. I also really liked the Russian folklore weaved into the story because I’ve only read a handful of books that have a Russian flavor to them. I’m always curious about stories based on mythologies, folktales or legends that I’m not familiar with.

“The old tale of Sleeping Beauty might end happily in French or English, but he was in Russia, and only a fool would want to live through the Russian version of any fairy tale.”

One of the highlights of any good fairy tale for me is the romance and Enchanment had a really good love story. It’s funny how Katerina wasn’t initially impressed with her “prince” but that was mostly because she didn’t know him and wasn’t familiar with a modern person’s way of doing things. It was entertaining to see both Katerina and Ivan get to know each other as they explore the two worlds that they both inhabit. It was also a plus that their families are so involved in their lives and their parents had a stake in the bond that was forming between the couple. I felt like all the elements of Enchantment’s story came together nicely, making it such a delightful read. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy and fairy tale retellings.

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4 thoughts on “Retro Friday: Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

    • I know that Enchantment isn’t that well-known, which was why I wanted to write a review of it even though I haven’t been able to reread it recently. I hope you give it a try! 🙂 What are some of your own favorite fairy tale retellings?

    • Yep, this is written by the same author of Ender’s Game! That’s actually the only sci-fi book of his that I’ve read but I’ve heard good things about the sequel. I just haven’t found time to read it yet. Hope you can give Enchantment a try since it’s a standalone and you seem to enjoy fairy tale retellings. 🙂

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