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The Charleston Gazette
Saturday, July 15, 2000

Book casts spell over this reader
By Laura Esslinger
Winfield High School

IT'S PRETTY BAD to be a teenager without a car. It's even worse to be a teenager without a car in the summer. But the lowest life form imaginable is to be a teenager without a car in the summer -- and one whose friends don't have cars, either.

This is when severe boredom sets in. But before you reach for the remote control (trust me, "Days of Our Lives" isn't going anywhere), consider reading a remarkable and captivating book by best-selling fantasy author Orson Scott Card, "Enchantment."

I can hear every one of you groaning, "Yeah, right. I'm out of school. Why would I want to use my already aching brain for anything more than it takes to eat a Big Mac?"

Trust me, this book is worth it. It has everything: adventure, romance, history, giant bears that are really gods and married to witches, and even a poor, misunderstood time traveler who accidentally wears girls' clothing. What more could you ask for?

"Enchantment" is an enthralling story. It begins in present-day Russia with our hero, Ivan. While visiting an uncle as a young boy, Ivan discovers a young woman lying in a clearing in the forest. Feeling an evil presence, he runs away. The vivid memory stays with him even after he moves to the United States.

Years later, Ivan returns to fulfill his destiny and free the girl. In the process, he gets trapped in the year 800. Ivan discovers that he must become king of a first-century barbaric nation, convert to Christianity and learn how to fight with really, really big swords in order to save the nation from complete obliteration.

To complicate matters, there's a witch named Baba Yaga who's not very happy about Ivan's quest. He also incurs the displeasure of the young woman he saves because she is now required to marry him.

"Enchantment" is not only intriguing, but it's also one of the most realistic fantasy books I have read.

The hero has his faults, the heroine has personal conflicts, and the setting is historically accurate. It's complex enough to be worth your while (no Harlequin romance here, sorry) but nothing that will put you to sleep.

Even if you normally despise the fantasy genre, you'll enjoy the three-dimensional characters and the realism, not to mention the fact that it's extremely well-written.

I promise you, once you begin to read this book, you won't be able to put it down. It's . . . enchanting.

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