I’m a fan of Ender’s Game, so I assumed I was a fan of Orson Scott Card. This may have been a false assumption. I picked up Enchantment because it looked interesting, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and it looked different from my last Orson Scott Card disappointment. No awkward religious stuff here, I thought. I thought wrong.
Enchantment is billed as a fantasy, as a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. But we open on a Russian boy in 1975 converting to Judaism to escape Russia. The first hour is about his conversion and his escape to America. This… was not what I was expecting. He also studies old-timey Russian like his father, who is a professor.
After a while, we do get into the meat of the story. A lot of the aspects that seemed kind of trivial make sense. We do get to the Sleeping Beauty part (eventually), and Ivan does have to defeat some obstacles to wake the princess. But this is mostly about what happens after the princess is awakened.
Our princess is Katerina, and she is the princess of Tyna. Tyna needs her, apparently, so Ivan and Katerina go back to Tyna, specifically the Tyna in Katerina’s time, which is like, 900 something A.D. Good thing Ivan knows how to speak old-timey Russian. Tyna needs her to defeat Baba Yaga. Yes, that Baba Yaga.
There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding and culture-shock. Ivan and Katerina hang out in old-timey Russia, and then they go back to the 1990’s, where their situations are reversed. Where Ivan was confused and out of place, now Katerina is having the same experience. But Ivan’s family is way nicer than Katerina’s, seeing as they kind of know what’s going on.
Things go a little crazy. We’re either plodding along or things are absolutely insane. And then the ending sucks. We have a big mystery that get tangentially solved, but not really. And the choices Ivan and Katerina make are kind of awful.
None of the characters are really all that likable. I think my favorite is Bear, because he’s the most relatable. He’s just making the best of a bad situation. He’s stuck in an abusive relationship with Baba Yaga. He’s a god, so he knows he has power, but he’s unable to use it. Their story is more believable (I mean, not counting the magic and beastiality and all that) than Ivan and Katerina’s. Theirs is kind of Stockholm Syndrome-y. They’re stuck together, so of course they fall in love. And for all that they talk about language, they can’t seem to use their words to communicate. There’s a section where Katerina bares her soul to Ivan, but then we find out that she said it all in her head and didn’t actually say it to him. These kids are dumb. And there is also a lot of juvenile humor, which sometimes seems out of place. There’s something about the narrator, Stefan Rudnicki, who reads a lot of Card’s books. He read the last one I read, and it makes me glad I didn’t try the audiobook of Ender’s Game. This is a personal opinion, but I don’t think his voice would be suited to that story. After these last two books, I’m hesitant to reread Ender’s Game for fear that I would experience the same disappointment that I’ve had with these two.
This fulfills the CBR10 Bingo square of “Cover Art.” Just goes to show you really can’t judge a book by its cover.