I'm a bit late to the party viz Enchanted, by Aletha Kontis. It's been out for a while, and has been reviewed lots. However, the thing with having Lists, as I do, is that there they are, needing to be added to, and Enchanted is a must-have on my Fairy Tale retelling list (and some day I'll review Grave Mercy for my Historical Fantasy list, and Silver Phoenix for my multicultural list....)
There is Sunday, a girl whose family is just riddled with magic. She is the seventh daughter of Jack and Seven Woodcutter, coming last after Monday et al. Each sister, in accordance with the rhyme, is the embodiment of the qualities for the child born on that day (Monday's child is full of grace, Tuesday's child is fair of face, Wednesday's child, which is me, and I resent it, is full of woe, etc.). Sunday gets to be bonny and giving, blithe and gay...which seems to guarantee a pretty happy life.
Except that Sunday has grown up in the shadow of her sisters' magic, not mention the exploits of her brother, Jack--pretty much the Jack of all the Jack stories--and he ended up mysteriously dying (or so they think), and Sunday's mother is cold and un-nurturing, and Tuesday got shoes that danced her to death, and so it's not exactly all sunshine and flowers in Sunday's family.
So Sunday goes off by herself, to write stories in the woods. And she meets an enchanted frog, and they become dear friends...and then he's a prince, and there are balls, and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are referenced...
But the former frog, now Prince, has secrets he isn't telling Sunday (like the fact that he was her frog friend), and in fact he has secrets he can't remember himself (cause of enchantments) and MAGIC and FAIRYTALES just burst out all over the place, like the beans planted outside the Woodcutter family cottage.
Will the ex-frog Prince and Sunday find a happily ever after? Will Sunday's sisters have satisfactory fates (too late for poor Tuesday)? Just what is the family secret that is at the root of all this magic? And how many fairy tale elements does one book really need?
Well, in this case, as long as the reader is prepared to go with the flow, the exuberance of fairy tales works just fine. I confess I was bewildered at times, as were the main characters, but it was fun. (On a personal note, "full of woe" turns out to be an interesting fate, which pleased me).
Sunday was a fine character, perhaps because we get to meet her before all the goings on really get going. The ex-frog Prince never gets to be quite a real character, in large part because he's lost a chunk of his memory, and he himself doesn't seem all that certain about who he is (and did he really spend time on Thursday's pirate ship? That little vignette seemed to come out of no-where, and may well have been a dream). There were moments of unexpected depth, particular with regard to Sunday's mother, and the nature of family relationships, that helped balance the whirl of enchantments, making this more than a light divertissement of a read.
So all in all, I enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone 12 and up wanting a magic-filled entertainment with lovely dress-making scenes (always an added bonus!)
(If you found my summary confusing, and I feel that it might be, but like I said, I wasn't entirely certain at the time just what was happening, and retrospect hasn't lent clarity to the view all that noticeably, feel free to go read Kate's over at The Book Aunt).
helpful note on age: this is one of those books labeled YA that middle grade girls will love. Like Brightly Woven, and The False Princess, and, um....all the other ones that I am not able to think of right now. Which is to say--there's love, but no sex.