A Well-Timed Enchantment

A Well-Timed Enchantment

4.7 13
by Vivian Vande Velde

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It's bad enough that Deanna has to waste her summer in France and her only friend is a mangy black cat, but now she's staring hopelessly into a well, trying to figure out what in the world to wish for.

Before she can make a wish, the cat scratches her, her watch falls into the well, and then . . . so has she! Except that now she's in medieval France, the cat…  See more details below


It's bad enough that Deanna has to waste her summer in France and her only friend is a mangy black cat, but now she's staring hopelessly into a well, trying to figure out what in the world to wish for.

Before she can make a wish, the cat scratches her, her watch falls into the well, and then . . . so has she! Except that now she's in medieval France, the cat is a handsome young man, and her watch has the power to completely change history.

Maybe a quiet summer would have been nice?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
A summer in France should be a fabulous vacation for fifteen-year-old Deanna who is with her mother visiting relatives, except Deanna's parents just went through a divorce. One day, during her the walk with Oliver the cat, she becomes intrigued by a water well. Unfortunately, her Mickey Mouse watch falls into the well and oddly Deanna is pulled in after the timepiece by a mysterious hand. She is taken back in time to the medieval world of lords, ladies, knights, and wizards. In this strange setting, Oliver is now a young man with some cat habits. With Oliver's help or hindrance, they must locate the timepiece in twenty-four hours and return to their world; otherwise events in history will change. To begin searching for a lost watch in a different time and place is like finding a needle in a haystack. Perhaps she can rely on the knights Baylen or Leonard to lend a hand. Will Algernon, the wizard, be of help to them or is he more dangerous than they know? Oliver seems to be the only one she can really trust, although his instincts are of the feline variety.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7 --Deanna, 15, drops her watch in a well, thus beginning a frenetic adventure in tenth-century France. Her first encounter is with elves wearing rock `n' roll T-shirts, who take her to task for mucking up time by throwing her Mickey Mouse watch into an astral loophole. Deanna is dispatched to find her watch, aided by her cat, Oliver, now transformed into a young man. Following a road ``paved with red polka-dot linoleum and marked with a flashing road-construction arrow,'' the duo (now magically clothed in tenth-century garb) become involved with a mannered French family that includes an evil sorcerer, a pair of competitive brothers, and their sire.... Everything works out: the sorcerer is not evil after all, Deanna retrieves the watch with the help of a pig-keeper who is marginally introduced, and Deanna and Oliver return to contemporary times. The characters are developed with exaggerated strokes, and the anachronisms that frame the book are jarring. However, the book's conclusion is pleasingly ambiguous, as Deanna, now in love with Oliver despite his currently feline form, prepares to make one more wish at the well. For a better crafted medieval fantasy adventure with a likable heroine, try Lloyd Alexander's Westmark (Dutton, 1981). --Carolyn Noah, Worcester Public Library, MA
From the Publisher

"Slapstick adventure . . . funny."--The Horn Book

"Vande Velde has created an intriguing story, using familiar facts about the Middle Ages and [her usual] sly humor."--Library Talk

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sales rank:
720L (what's this?)
File size:
140 KB
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

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A Well-Timed Enchantment 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks back and forth waiting
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
I don't particularly like cats in real life, but I've noticed recently that they are generally a lot more appealing in fiction. A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde has a cat that's cool like that. The story starts when Deanna, a fifteen-year-old spending the summer with her mom in France, drops her Mickey Mouse watch down a well. Turns out the well isn't your average well: it's magic. To make matters worse, Deanna didn't drop her watch into the well, she dropped it into medieval France. Now she has to get the watch back before things get really out of hand. Deanna gets some help in the form of Oliver, the black cat she befriended back in modern France. Except now Oliver is a human. I first read this book when I was sixteen. I loved it so much I read it twice back to back. A Well-Timed Enchantment is one of those books that never get old. You can read it again and again and the story is still just as good as the first time. Vande Velde's narrative style here is similar to her other "fairy tale" books (like The Rumpelstiltskin Problem or Heir Apparent) with a blend of traditional story telling and her inimitably modern sensibility. The novel is written with a third person narration that follows Deanna's perspective. This novel combines a lot of different elements to great effect. One of the best characters (in any of) Vande Velde's work is Oliver. Turns out cats don't see things the same way humans do. I don't know how convincingly anyone can write in the voice of a cat-turned-human but Vande Velde seems to do a good job of it. The story is quick and fairly simple. There are a lot of things that older readers can enjoy and comment on, but the story is straight-forward enough that younger readers can also keep up. I might even go as far as to say it's a great feminist-oriented book for children (some might call it "anti-princess") because Deanna plays a significant role in fixing things (getting back the watch) even though Oliver does help quite a bit. My only issue with A Well-Timed Enchantment is the ending. Some readers will tell you they like a good, open-ended finish. It's more realistic, it encourages readers to use their imagination, etc. There is a time and place for open-endedness. This book does not happen to be the best place for it. Vande Velde acknowledges this in her dedication (it's dedicated to a girl even though she hated the ending). Over the years the ending has rankled less because, having given the matter more thought, I've been forced to conclude that there might not be a better way to end things. But it still left me frustrated after my first reading. Despite the somewhat irritating ending, this book is amazing. The characters are endearing, the story is fun, Oliver is awesome. Vande Velde is as creative and fun here as ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
-Katerina- More than 1 year ago
The trouble starts when Deanna starts to make a wish at an old well. Deanna's attempt to wish upsets Oliver a cat (who is her companion/friend while she is visiting relatives in a foreign country that she doesn't speak the language of) and causes her to drop her Mickey Mouse watch into the well. Deanna gets sucked into the well and Oliver jumps in to try to save her thus starting her journey - she is entrusted by two elves to retrieve her watch that has fallen back in time before it causes the destruction of her world and she ceases to exist. To assist her the elves turn Oliver the cat into a human boy. But what will happen when Deanna finds her watch, now that she & Oliver have fallen in love as humans?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't think Velde did a good job on this book. The idea was good and I liked the ending, but I was highly disappointed. I've read many of Velde's and loved all of them but this one just didn't do it for me. I didn't think it was that funny and I found it pretty predictable. And even though it was supposed to take place in 24 hours, it felt like it went really fast.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great humorous fantasy. It's a good lenghth that will entertain you for a day and you'll continue thinking about it after you've finished.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was such a good book! I picked it up, started to read, and was almost instantaniously pulled into the plot and the characters. This was my first book by Vivian Vande Velde. It had me laughing pretty much all the way through, and all the characters were so much fun. The ending kinda leaves you hanging, but I loved it anyway. It had such a unique and comedic feeling about it. ^-^ GO OLIVER!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book. A very fun read if you just want to read something. Vivian Vande Velde wrote outstandingly as always.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! I love this book! It is awesome! You get hooked from the start. The ending is sweet, and gives you something to wonder about. 'What happens? How does she explain Oliver to her mom?'Read this book. You'll love it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK WAS AWSOME!!! If you like fantasy, and action you will LOVE this book! I was hooked from begining to end, IT WAS WONDERFUL YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a GREAT book! It has a sirprising ending! This is a book that you will want to read over and over and over. It is a mix between reality and fantasy. READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!