Title: Book of Enchantments
Author: Patricia C Wrede
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2005
Series: Stand Alone
Reason for Discovery: I love the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C Wrede
This witty and charming collection of ten short fantasies includes a story, set in the Enchanted Forest, about Queen Cimorene's Frying Pan of Doom; a zany yarn about a magical blue chipmunk with a passion for chestnuts; and an eerie tale of a caliph who turns his vizier's daughter into a wolf.
One of my favorite series is the young adult series entitled the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. It is a collection of four books that chronicle the adventures of Princess Cimorene. Over the course of the series Cimorene fights wizards by dumping buckets of soapy water with a bit of lemon on them, making large quantities of cherries jubilee for dragons, and giving Rumpelstiltskin's great, great, great, great, great grandchild. The books are so fun and witty. When I cam across Book of Enchantments at the library, I had to get it, because (1) there was an Enchanted Forest story in it and (2) I wanted to read more by Patricia C Wrede.
This book contain ten short stories and a recipe for Quick After-Battle Chocolate Cake. All of the books have fantasy elements. Eight of the stories take place in magical realms and two of them take place in a contemporary, modern setting. I would classify this book as young adult.
I remember looking at this book on Amazon a year or so ago and deciding not to get it, because I read a few reviews saying that this book is not for someone who is looking for more of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. This is undeniably true. Outside of the Enchanted Forest story that is fun and witty, the rest of the other stories are varying levels of sadness. I must admit that I was taken back at how heartbreaking some of the stories are. For example, one story is about a prince who does not rescue his princess at the needed time and another story is about two sisters who hate each other. The meat of most of these stories is very different from what the blurb suggests.
At the same time, these stories were really well written and enjoyable reads, even if some of them were sad. I found all the stories to be very interesting and unique. Even though I liked some of the stories more than others, I was surprised that I really enjoyed all of the stories. They all hold their own. None of the stories felt like filler. The Enchanted Forest story, however, did feel a little out of place next to the other stories, which were not as light. I am assuming that the publisher wanted to capitalize on people's love of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
Wrede writes characters who are clever first and foremost, and you can see this in Book of Enchantments. Some of the protagonists rely on magic, others do not, but all of them have good heads on their shoulders. I might have said that this is a weakness in a collection of short stories; however, in a collection of fairy tales, I expect my protagonists to be clever. Fairy tale protagonists know that magic has a price, so they best use their brains to help them get out of their jams. I was surprised how quickly I attached to these characters and cared for them. I have read a handful of novellas recently, and the characters felt more believable in this book than in any of the recent novellas.
Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. I need to pick up my very own copy of this book.
I give this book 4 out of 5 kitties.