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The Amaranth Enchantment

Review

The Amaranth Enchantment

Lucinda Chapdelaine spent the first five years of her life with a privileged upbringing and loving parents. She even met the king at one of her parents’ parties, and he promised that when she came of age, she could have two dances with the prince. But her world crashed to a painful end when her mother and father died in a carriage accident. According to the accountant, their wealth had dwindled to nothing, and Lucinda was left penniless. A kind uncle and his new wife agreed to take her in, but the wonderful life she had before drifts away into distant memories.

Now at 15, Lucinda toils away at her aunt and uncle’s rather unsuccessful goldsmith shop. She sleeps in a drafty closet of a room, works from pre-dawn until after dark with her belly only half-filled and her heart empty and alone. Her uncle is kind, though he is no match for his cruel and sadistic wife, who takes pleasure in forcing Lucinda to slave away and then beats her for any little mistake she makes. But all of this changes the day the woman rumored to be a witch walks into the shop.

She calls herself Beryl, but the village considers her a witch. She enters the goldsmith shop with a huge, unusual gem and would like a new necklace casing made for the beautiful jewel. Beryl also brings up employment to Lucinda, but quickly withdraws the offer after seeing the reaction of Lucinda’s aunt. The unusual woman and her gem aren’t the only visitors that day; the handsome prince stops in as well, searching for a gift to give his fiancé. Never has this little shop received such attention before. And yet, the fun has only just begun.

Later that night, a fast-talking, scalawag pickpocket named Peter forces his way into Lucinda’s room, attempting to elude capture. Lucinda reluctantly agrees to hide him for the night, and he generously returns the favor by stealing Beryl’s jewel. The next day, the only kindness in Lucinda’s life, her uncle, passes away, and her aunt proceeds to kick her out of the house. Without anywhere to go and no one to turn to, Lucinda makes her way to Beryl’s house, hoping she will still want to hire her. But what Beryl really wants --- and needs --- is to get that special gem back, as it holds powers and importance beyond belief. She makes a deal with Lucinda to get the gem, and Lucinda sets off to find the pickpocket, only to learn he sold it to the prince.

Lucinda does the only thing she can think of --- she asks Peter to teach her how to pickpocket so she can steal from the prince. Unfortunately, Lucinda has yet another challenge to tackle. She finds out that her parents’ carriage accident may not have been an accident, and the person responsible wants to complete the job by finishing off her as well.

THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT is Julie Berry’s first novel, and what a wonderful debut it is. Filled with murder, mystery, an exotic visitor, a handsome prince, a forbidden romance, and a few humorous tidbits thrown in for good measure, the book has something for everyone to enjoy. Berry has a real talent for storytelling, hooking readers’ attentions and flying them through the pages with action and excitement. And her amazing writing style is enhanced by her choice of action verbs, keeping “was” and “were” verbs to a minimum, a refreshing change from a lot of other novels. Book lovers will want to keep an eye on this new and gifted author. May she have another winner in stores soon.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on March 3, 2009

The Amaranth Enchantment
by Julie Berry

  • Publication Date: March 3, 2009
  • Genres: Fantasy, Romance
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 1599903342
  • ISBN-13: 9781599903347