Enchanted

Enchanted

4.3 83
by Alethea Kontis
     
 

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It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.
     When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that

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Overview

It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.
     When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.
     The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past—and hers?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2012

* "A fabulous fairy-tale mashup that deserves hordes of avid readers. Absolutely delectable."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Kontis delivers a fairy-tale mash-up that outright sparkles."—School Library Journal, starred review

"Fantasy readers will undoubtedly enjoy the . . . mash-up of these famous stories, spiced with comedy, romance and magical powers."—VOYA

"A wonderful mix-up of fairy-tale tropes, a clever love story, and a delightful tale all on its own!"—Tamora Pierce

"A charming tumble of fairy tales, spiced with humor and sprinkled with true love." —Sharon Shinn, best-selling author of the Samaria series

"If Neil Gaiman and the Brothers Grimm had a child who grew up to weave fairy tales, she would be Alethea Kontis. Read this book—it’s an absolute winner."—J.T. Ellison, best-selling author of Where All the Dead Lie

"As mischievous a garden full of fairies and twice as clever, Enchanted proves there’s more than life left in the oldest genre in the world—there’s a lot of heart, too." —Sean Williams, New York Times best-selling author

"Kontis is a born spell-caster and her work is spellbinding. In the style of great fairy tales, Kontis has created a delightful, heartfelt new classic that can charm the sun out from behind the clouds." —Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the Strangely Beautiful and Magic Most Foul series

"Alethea Kontis’s debut is full of inventive whimsy. Take your favorite fairytale and spin it to the side, throw in a half-dozen other tales all dancing, and you get this Enchanted ball."—Mary Robinette Kowal, award-winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey

"It's the relaxed humor of Kontis' presentation that not only ups the realism of characters unfazed by talking frogs and fey characters but also gives this offering its sweet, distinctive stamp."—Booklist

VOYA - Kevin Beach
The first YA novel from a published picture book author, this fantasy tale is a clever reworking of the fairy tales you may recall from your childhood. The Frog Prince, The Princess and the Pea, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rumpelstiltskin, among others, are all put in a blender and retold through the activities of the rustic Woodcutter family, which produced seven magical daughters named for the days of the week. Sunday Woodcutter, the youngest, is the star of this tale, being the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. She starts things off by befriending a frog who may be a prince and whose father may be a vampiric figure that drinks the life blood from his many wives to stay youthful, and who presently may be courting one of her older sisters. Will Sunday save her sister? Will she wait for her frog to become human or fall for the charms of her kingdom's prince? Will she stop her foolish brother from selling the family cow for beans? Eventually, all of the sisters' tales become intertwined as they attend balls and meet dashing noblemen, slay a giant, and deal with the spells and intrigues of their two magical "godmother" aunts. Patient fantasy readers will undoubtedly enjoy the sometimes confusing mash-up of these famous stories, spiced with comedy, romance and magical powers. The author has co-authored a work with well-known fantasy writer, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and is sure to produce follow-ups to the Woodcutter family's saga. Reviewer: Kevin Beach
Children's Literature - Heather Kinard
Being the seventh daughter of parents who were each a seventh child has created a somewhat complicated life for Sunday Woodcutter. Sunday is the youngest of ten with three older brothers and six older sisters. Each sibling possesses a talent that sets him or her apart from the others. Sunday's talent is telling stories that have a tendency to come true. One day in the woods near her home, Sunday meets an enchanted frog and the two quickly become friends. Over time, Sunday shares her stories with the frog and the friendship deepens into something magical. One evening, Sunday kisses the frog goodbye and heads for home, not realizing that her kiss has magically transformed the frog back into his human form, but he is not just any human. He is Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland, and the man Sunday believes is responsible for the death of her oldest brother. Returning to his castle, the prince is determined to prove to the Woodcutter family that he is not the man they think he is, and in turn win the love of Sunday again. The King throws a series of balls to celebrate the return of his son and Rumbold hopes this will be his opportunity to prove himself to Sunday. The King has other plans and begins his own courtship with one of Sunday's sisters. His intentions are more sinister, though, and Rumbold now has to choose between loyalty to his father or his love for Sunday. But the Woodcutter family has secrets of their own. Will true love prevail and heal the wounds shared by two families? This book shows a lot of imagination, but can be somewhat choppy and confusing in places. Readers who enjoy fairy tales, magic, and romance will be sure to enjoy this book. Reviewer: Heather Kinard
School Library Journal
Gr 7–9—Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, and as such she finds that her stories have great power. When she meets a frog in the woods one day, their friendship slowly blossoms into love. Once he is freed from a dastardly spell and restored to his human form, Crown Prince Rumbold returns to the castle and calls for three balls to be held so that he may reunite with his beloved. When he meets Sunday's family at the first ball, he realizes that there is a troubled history between their families and decides to conceal his previous amphibian identity. As magic suddenly blossoms throughout the Woodcutter family, two dueling fairy godmothers battle for the kingdom's fate, and the Frog Prince and his love must each rely on the other to find true happiness. Kontis delivers a fairy-tale mash-up that outright sparkles. The characters are perfectly drawn, with flaws, hidden agendas, and a seemingly infinite hope for a bright and loving future. Fanciful bits of almost every classical fairy tale dance through Sunday's story, leading readers into an effervescent new world. The twists and turns, the nod to genre classics, and the emotional depth of this novel will captivate readers.—Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Readers who get past the generic title and an off-puttingly generic cover will discover a fabulous fairy-tale mashup that deserves hordes of avid readers. Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, living in the shadow of the memory of her eldest brother, Jack Junior, who disappeared on a cursed quest of his own. Sunday's siblings each have their own fates and secrets. Her sisters range from twins Monday and Tuesday (Tuesday was danced to death) to Friday, who works magic with a needle; among her brothers is Trix, who is a changeling. It is Sunday, however, who becomes fast friends with a talking frog, and it is Sunday's kiss that frees him--except she doesn't know. Kontis has deeply and vividly woven just about every fairy character tale readers might half-remember into the fabric of her story: the beanstalk, the warrior maiden, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and some darker ones, too. She does this so seamlessly, and with such energy and good humor, that readers might miss a few references, caught up instead in Sunday's cheer and vivacity, or in Grumble-the-Frog/Rumbold-the-Prince's intense romantic nature (and his longing for his long-dead mother, the queen). Absolutely delectable; if it has more fripperies and furbelows than are strictly speaking necessary, it makes up for that in the wizardly grace of its storytelling. (Fantasy. 12-18)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544022188
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/28/2013
Series:
Woodcutter Sisters Series, #1
Pages:
329
Sales rank:
134,070
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

1: Fool’s Gold and Fairy Stones

My name is Sunday Woodcutter, and I am doomed to a happy life.

I am the seventh daughter of Jack and Seven Woodcutter, Jack a seventh son and Seven a seventh daughter herself. Papa’s dream was to give birth to the charmed, all-powerful Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Mama told him seven girls or seven boys, whichever came first. Jack Junior was first. Papa was elated. His dream died the morning I popped out, blithe and bonny and good and gay, seven daughters later.

Fortunately, coming first did not stop Jack Junior from being a wunderkind. I never knew my eldest sibling, but I know his legend. All of Arilland’s children grew up in Jack’s shadow, his younger siblings more than most. I have never known a time when I wasn’t surrounded by the overdramatic songs and stories of Jack Junior’s exploits. A good number of new ones continue to spring up about the countryside to this very day. I have heard them all. (Well, all but the Forbidden Tale. I’m not old enough for that one yet.)

But I know the most important tale: the tale of his demise, while he served in the King’s Royal Guard. One day, in a fit of pique or passion (depending on the bard), he killed Prince Rumbold’s prized pup. As punishment, the prince’s evil fairy godmother witched Jack Junior into a mutt and forced him to take the pup’s place. He was never heard from again.

They say my family was never the same after that. I wish I could know my father as tales portray him then: loud, confident, and opinionated. Now he is simply a strong, quiet man, content with his place in life. It is no secret that Papa harbors no loyalty to the royal family of Arilland, but he has never said a word against them.

My second-eldest brother’s name is Peter. My third brother is Trix. Trix was a foundling child that Papa discovered in the limbs of a tree at the edge of the Wood one winter’s workday before I was born. The way Mama tells it, Trix was a son she didn’t have to give birth to, and he made Papa happy. She already had too many children to feed, what was one more?

My sisters and I—

"What are you doing?"

Sunday’s head snapped up from her journal. She had chosen this spot for its solitude, followed the half-hidden path through the underbrush to the decaying rocks of the abandoned well, sure that she had escaped her family. And yet, the voice that had interrupted her thoughts was not familiar to her. Her eyes took a moment to adjust, slowly focusing on the mottled shadows the afternoon sun cast through dancing leaves.

"I’m sorry?" She posed the polite query to her unknown visitor in an effort to make him reveal himself, be he real or imagined, dead or alive, fairy or—

"I said, ‘What are you doing?’ "

—frog.

Sunday forced her gaping mouth closed. Caught off-guard, she sputtered the truth: "I’m telling myself stories."

The frog considered her answer. He balanced himself on his spotted hind legs and blinked at her with his bulbous eyes. "Why? Do you have no one to whom you can tell them?"

Apart from his interruption, he maintained an air of polite decorum. He’s smart, too, Sunday thought. He must have been a human before being cursed. Animals of the Wood only ever spoke in wise riddles and almost-truths.

"I have quite a large family, actually, with lots of stories. Only . . ."

"Only what?"

"Only no one wants to hear them."

"I do," said the frog. "Read me your story, the story you have just written there, and I will listen."

She liked this frog. Sunday smiled, but slowly closed her book. "You don’t want to hear this story."

"Why not?"

"It’s not very interesting."

"What’s it about?"

"It’s about me. That’s why none of my family wants to hear it. They already know all about me."

The frog stretched out on his sun-dappled rock like he was settling into a chaise lounge. She could tell from his body language—so much more human than frog—there would be no turning him down. "I don’t know anything about you," he said. "You may begin your story."

It was completely absurd. Absurd that Sunday was in the middle of the Wood talking to a frog. Absurd that he wanted to learn about her. Absurd that he would care. It was so absurd that she opened her journal and started reading from the top of the page.

" ‘My name is Sunday Woodcutter—’ "

"Grumble," croaked the frog.

"If you’re going to grumble through the whole thing, why did you ask me to read it in the first place?"

"You said your name was Sunday Woodcutter," said the frog. "My name is Grumble."

"Oh." Her face felt hot. Sunday wondered briefly if frogs could tell that a human was blushing or if they were one of the many colorblind denizens of the forest. She bowed her head slightly. "It’s very nice to meet you, Grumble."

"At your service," said Grumble. "Please, carry on with your story."

It was awkward, as Sunday had never read her musings aloud to anyone. She cleared her throat several times. More than once she had to stop after a sentence she had quickly stumbled through and start again more slowly. Her voice seemed overloud and the words felt foreign and sometimes wrong; she resisted the urge to scratch them out or change them as she went along. She was worried that this frog-who-used-to-be-a-man would hear her words and think she was silly. He would want nothing more to do with her. He would thank her for her time, and she would never see him again. Had her young life come to this? Was she so desperate for intelligent conversation that she was willing to bare her soul to a complete stranger? Sunday realized, as she continued to read, that it didn’t matter. She would have Grumble know her for who she was.

For as long as she had sat under the tree writing, she thought the reading of it would have taken longer, but Sunday came to the end in no time at all. "I had meant to go on about my sisters," she apologized, "but . . ."

The frog was strangely silent. He stared off into the Wood.

Sunday turned her face to the sun. She was afraid of his next words. If he didn’t like the writing, then he didn’t like her, and everything she had done in her whole life would be for nothing. Which was silly, but she was silly, and absurd, and sometimes ungrateful, but she promised the gods that she would not be ungrateful now, no matter what the frog said. If he said anything at all. And then, finally:

"I remember a snowy winter’s night. It was so cold outside that your fingertips burned if you put them on the windowpane. I tried it only once." He let out a long croak. "I remember a warm, crackling fire on a hearth so large I could have stood up in it twice. There was a puppy there, smothering me with love, as puppies are wont to do. I was his whole world. He needed me and I felt like . . . like I had a purpose. I remember being happy then. Maybe the happiest I’ve been in my whole life." The frog closed his eyes and bowed his head. "I don’t remember much of my life before. But now, just now, I remember that. Thank you."

Sunday clasped her shaking fingers together and swallowed the lump in her throat. He was definitely a man in a frog’s body, and he was sad. She couldn’t think what in her words had moved him so, but that wasn’t the point. She had touched him. Not just him as a frog but the man he used to be. A more gracious reply Sunday could never have imagined. "I am honored," she said, for she was.

"And then I interrupted you." Grumble snapped out of his dreamlike tone into a more playful one. "Forgive me. As you can imagine, I don’t get many visitors. You honor me by indulging me with your words, kind lady. Do you write often?"

"Yes. Every morning and every night and every moment I can sneak in between."

"And do you always write about your family?"

Sunday flipped the pages of her never-ending journal—her nameday gift from Fairy Godmother Joy—past her thumb. It was a nervous habit she’d had all her life. "I am afraid to write anything else."

"Why is that?"

Maybe it was because the honesty was intoxicatingly freeing or because he was a frog and not a man, but she felt strangely comfortable with Grumble. She had already told him so much about her life, more than anyone had ever before cared to know. Why should she stop now? "Things I write . . . well . . . they have a tendency to come true. And not in the best way."

"For instance?"

"I didn’t want to gather the eggs one morning, so I wrote down that I didn’t have to. That night, a weasel got into the henhouse. No one got eggs that morning. Another time, I did not want to go with the family to market."

"Did the wagon break a wheel?"

"I got sick with the flu and was in bed for a week," she said with a smile. " ‘Regret’ is not a strong enough word."

"I imagine not," said Grumble.

"And now you’re wondering what would happen if I wrote that you were free of your spell."

"The thought had crossed my mind."

"You might not come back as a man but as a mouse or a mule or a tiger who’d eat me alive. You might come back as a man but not the man you were. You might be missing something vital, like an arm or a leg or—"

"My mind?" Grumble joked.

"—breath," Sunday answered seriously.

"Ah. We must always be careful what we wish for."

"Exactly. If I write only about events that have already come to pass, there is no danger of my accidentally altering the future. No one but the gods should have power over such things."

"A very practical decision."

"Yes." She sighed. "Very practical and very boring. Very just like me."

"On the contrary. I found your brief essay quite intriguing."

"Really?" He was just saying that to be nice. And then she remembered he was a frog. Funny how she kept forgetting.

"Will you read to me again tomorrow?"

If her ridiculously large smile didn’t scare him off, surely nothing she wrote could. "I would love to."

"And would you . . . be my friend?" he asked tenuously.

The request was charming and humble. "Only if you will be mine in return."

Grumble’s mouth opened wide into what Sunday took to be a froggy grin. "And . . . if I may be so bold, Miss Woodcutter—"

"Please, call me Sunday."

"Sunday . . . do you think you could find it in your heart to . . . kiss me?"

She had wondered how long it would take before he got around to asking. A maiden’s kiss was the usual remedy for his particular enchantment. Normally Sunday would have declined without a thought. But he had been so polite, and she was surely the only maiden he would come across for a very long time. It was the least she could do.

His skin was bumpy and slightly damp, but she tried not to think about it. After she kissed him, she straightened up quickly and backed away. She wasn’t sure what to expect. A shower of sparks? Some sort of explosion? Either way, she wanted to stand clear of whatever was involved in turning a frog back into a man.

Sunday waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened.

They stared at each other for a long time afterward.

"I don’t have to come back, you know, in case you were offering just to be courteous."

"Oh no," he said quickly. "I look forward to hearing about your sisters. Please, do come back tomorrow."

"Then I will, after I finish my chores. But I should go now, before it gets dark. Mama will be expecting me to help with dinner." She stood and brushed what dirt she could off her skirt. "Good night, Grumble."

"Until tomorrow, Sunday."

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A fabulous fairy-tale mashup that deserves hordes of avid readers. Absolutely delectable."—Kirkus, starred review

"Kontis delivers a fairy-tale mash-up that outright sparkles."—School Library Journal, starred review

"Fantasy readers will undoubtedly enjoy the . . . mash-up of these famous stories, spiced with comedy, romance and magical powers."—VOYA

"A charming tumble of fairy tales, spiced with humor and sprinkled with true love." —Sharon Shinn, best-selling author of the Samaria series

"If Neil Gaiman and the Brothers Grimm had a child who grew up to weave fairy tales, she would be Alethea Kontis. Read this book—it’s an absolute winner."—J.T. Ellison, best-selling author of Where All the Dead Lie

"As mischievous a garden full of fairies and twice as clever, Enchanted proves there’s more than life left in the oldest genre in the world—there’s a lot of heart, too." —Sean Williams, New York Times best-selling author

"Kontis is a born spell-caster and her work is spellbinding. In the style of great fairy tales, Kontis has created a delightful, heartfelt new classic that can charm the sun out from behind the clouds." —Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the Strangely Beautiful and Magic Most Foul series

"Alethea Kontis’s debut is full of inventive whimsy. Take your favorite fairytale and spin it to the side, throw in a half-dozen other tales all dancing, and you get this Enchanted ball."—Mary Robinette Kowal, award-winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey

"It's the relaxed humor of Kontis' presentation that not only ups the realism of characters unfazed by talking frogs and fey characters but also gives this offering its sweet, distinctive stamp."—Booklist

 

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Meet the Author

ALETHEA KONTIS is the author of the Woodcutter Sisters series, which includes Enchanted, Hero, and Dearest. She is also the New York Times best-selling co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The Dark-Hunter Companion. Alethea was a student of science fiction greats Andre Norton and Orson Scott Card. She lives and writes on Florida's Space Coast. Visit her website at www.aletheakontis.com.

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