Friday, June 20, 2014


My latest read from author Orson Scott Card, Enchantment, was definitely my favorite of the 20 or so of his books that I have read to date. The story is described as a modern re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, and while this book certainly has some obvious similarities to the classic tale, it is not some cheap copy. To the contrary, it is a magical piece of work from start to finish. The settings, the characters, the pacing, and the story arc, were just masterfully crafted. The book was very different from everything else that I have read by Card, and I found that it completely enrapt me.

The story begins as the patriarch of a small Jewish family from Russia makes the difficult decision to leave his homeland because of ongoing religious persecution. Piotr and Esther Smetski, along with their 10 year old son Ivan, are about to leave everything they have known behind to emigrate to the United States. On their journey, they stay for a few nights with cousin Marek who lives in the Ukraine. One day Ivan goes out to explore the forest surrounding his cousin's farm and stumbles upon a beautiful lady trapped on a pedestal surrounded by a leaf-filled chasm. As he approaches, something beneath the leaves stirs and scares him away. As the scene was so fantastic, he convinces himself that it was some sort of an illusion, a trick of the eye. However, even as he grows up in the United States and begins college, what he witnessed in that forest as a young boy plays through his mind again and again. Ultimately, Ivan visits the Ukraine again as a graduate student and is drawn back to visit cousin Marek. He returns to the forest and finds the lady asleep on the pedestal, just as he saw her all those years ago.

Ivan recognizes the situation. To awaken the enchanted princess, only a kiss can break the spell. However, the moment her eyes open, she tells Ivan that they will both be torn to shreds unless he immediately agrees to marry her. When Ivan takes Katerina back to her village to meet her father the king, the journey takes him back some 1000 years into the past. We soon learn the tale of the dreadful witch who had hoped to force the king to turn over his realm in exchange for his daughter's release. The princess agrees to marry Ivan, not because she has any feelings for him, but because it is her duty to save her lands and her people. Ultimately, Ivan and Katerina fall madly in love and, as they say, live happily ever after. I highly recommend this one.