Ivan’s childhood was full of changes. His family had to change religions which brought Ivan and his father Piotr to the painful decision of post-infancy circumcision. Then they had to move from Russia to America. Through all of these changes, what brought Ivan peace and stability was running. One run through the forest on his uncle’s farm brought him to a magical chasm where the leaves danced away as Ivan approached for a closer look at a woman sleeping on a bed of rock. Ivan did what he did best: he ran.
Years later, Ivan never could shake off the feeling that he should have looked closer at the woman and tried to help her. Through a series of seemingly coincidental events, Ivan finds himself back at his uncle’s farm. One curious run into the forest and Ivan finds the same woman buried under the leaves. This time, he doesn’t run.
This was a selection for a book club that I have recently joined, otherwise I might not have picked it up. This is the first book that I have read by Orson Scott Card as fantasy books are not really my preferred genre. However, fairy tales are one of my favorites, and this came across as a clever retelling of Sleeping Beauty mixed with the folk tales of Baba Yaga and other deities. Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment, although fantasy, surprised me in this combination of the three. I was further surprised that there were a few points where I lost interest yet it was quickly regained. This is not the sort of book that I could read in one sitting, as it was rather long and at some points long-winded. However, it is the sort of book that I could quickly pick up again the next day or even a few hours later. That is to say that I found it neither repulsive nor gripping.
I enjoyed the storyline for the most part and I also enjoyed the alternating perspectives between Ivan, Katerina, and Baba Yaga. I thought Baba Yaga was the character written the strongest as she was despicable yet entertaining. I also enjoyed the minor details earlier in the book that became major details later. For example: a vague note from a deceased neighbor in the beginning of the book played a major factor in one of the final action sequences. Although I love fairy tales, I do enjoy the struggle that Katerina and Ivan had in their relationship. They did not love each other immediately, rather they fell for each other at different paces.
I would recommend this book for any reader looking for an enchanting fantasy read with a leading female character and a bit of historical fiction.
On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who do not enjoy foul language, violence, revenge, murder, and sexually suggestive scenarios.