“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.”

Redonk  Nutshell: Twenty-something student travels back to his Russian homeland and encounters a sleeping princess deep in the woods

Once upon a time I stumbled upon this book after seeing a recommendation in an online book forum. It was described as a romantic fairy tale dragged into modern times.  I picked it up, excited to give it a go.  Enchantment quickly became one of my favored reads.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it now.  It’s a beautiful story, with a passion for history, love and humor.  I had no idea fantasy writer Scott Orson Card even wrote such romantic tales.

Our story starts out with a young 10 year old Ivan Smetski learning his Jewish parents are converting to Christianity and preparing to flee to the United States.  He flees into the Carpathian woods when he realizes he’s going to be circumcised, and there he encounters a sleeping woman upon a dais surrounded by magically swirling leaves.  It frightens young Ivan back to his home, where he tucks the memory away.  Fast forward and Ivan is now undertaking graduate studies in Russian folklore.  His studies take him back to his homeland, and when he remembers his encounter as a young boy he ventures back to the same spot and manages to find the same woman untouched, sleeping peacefully upon her dais.

Ivan manages to stir the magical prison and discovers the woman is guarded by a crazy huge bear that can hurl rocks at skull crushing speed.  Committed to his cause, Ivan in undeterred, and he manages to reach the woman and wake her with a kiss. His journey to her side has opened a bridge across time, and Ivan finds himself hurled back into Russian history.  The woman he awakened, Princess Katerina, reluctantly takes him back to her village.  Upon their arrival, they realize that in order to save the village’s destruction from the evil Baba Yaga, the two of them must marry.  Ivan’s reputation runs the gamut around the village – from town idiot to town savior and back again, and Katerina reluctantly begins a testy friendship with the man who woke her from her enslavement.

The two are eventually lured back into the present day, with Katerina following Ivan back across the time bridge, in order to figure out how to defeat Baba Yaga.  When Katerina sees Ivan’s world, she finds herself humbled and overwhelmed.  Despite her disadvantage, she adapts rather well, and before long the two of them come up with a plan to defeat the witch.

What really makes Enchantment work is the exquisitely blended mix of history, humor, romance, and adventure.  Enchantment is not a fluffy read.  The undertone of humor hidden throughout the dialogue and interaction of characters is woven delicately into the story.  Ivan is a fantastic hero, our beta who must assume the mantle of an alpha in order to save Katerina’s people.  He and Katerina end up having wonderful chemistry, if reluctant at first, and their adventures together gradually bring them together in an incredibly romantic and satisfying ending.

I adore this book.  I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a good romance with some gumption to it.  Unlike other cerebral romance books, Enchantment actually enchants through the whole book, enticing the reader to learn more about Russian folklore and the fantastical adventure of Ivan and his princess.

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, 432 pgs

Rating: A

Romance: 4/5              Raunch: 1/5

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