Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review - SECONDHAND CHARM

Secondhand Charm - Julie Berry
Genre: YA Fantasy
# of pages: 352 (hb)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Recommended for: ALL AGES

In a secluded village, magic sparkles on the edges of the forest. There, a young girl named Evie possesses unusually strong powers as a healer. A gypsy's charms—no more than trinkets when worn by others—are remarkably potent when Evie ties them around her neck. Her talents, and charms, have not escaped the notice of the shy stonemason's apprentice. But Evie wants more than a quiet village and the boy next-door. When the young king's carriage arrives one day, and his footman has fallen ill, Evie might just get her chance after all . . .

Every once in awhile a book comes along that you'd never heard of before and would have otherwise missed entirely. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of Secondhand Charm and bringing author Julie Berry to my attention. I'm going to have to check out her other novel - The Amaranth Enchantment, because I certainly liked this one.
First of all, the timing of this novel was perfect. I'd just finished The Knife of Never Letting Go, a powerful but emotionally exhausting novel and was really looking for an upbeat, entertaining weekend read. And Charm didn't disappoint. Personally, I just have a soft spot for sweet, fairytale-ish books that aren't complicated or convoluted or loooooong.
Oh, and have I mentioned how much I love creativity and originality? The magic in this book was very intriguing, and I loved the concept of the serpentina. It's always fun to read something with a truly unique feel :)
So while I did love the magical elements, I never really felt engrossed by the concepts.
And I think it's because the book spent a lot of time focusing on the life of the main character, Evie, in her small, simple village, which is good, but ultimately didn't really have a lot to do with the overall story. So we don't even meet the "magical creature" (don't want to drop a spoiler) until 100 pages in, and we don't begin to understand the magical elements until halfway in, which didn't leave a lot of time for all of the elements to come together.
Also (and this is entirely just a personal thing), Evie was a little hard for me to warm up to. See, she has this unyielding, extremely focused dream: she wants to study at university. No matter what happens (and some pretty darn extraordinary things happen), she wants what she wants. And for someone like me, who is on the brink of a major life crossroads, that just kind didn't resonate with me. How can you be that bent on what you want? How do you even know what you want? I guess there just really didn't seem to be any depth, any internal struggle to her, and so that was a little underwhelming.
Interestingly enough, Secondhand Charm is one of those books where I ended up liking the villain character more than the protagonist. The villain in this story - first of all - didn't really seem all that "evil" and whatnot, and s/he (again, trying not to spoil anything) seemed to have way more personality than our extremely goal-oriented main character, so that was pretty enjoyable.
Do you guys ever find yourself secretly rooting for a story's "bad guy"?

Overall, this was a pleasant, fun, and entertaining read. It was a quick read, but definitely memorable. And again, the magical premise was incredibly creative. I'd definitely recommend Secondhand Charm to all ages - cute, creative, and clean. :)

FINAL GRADE:
B+

8 shout-outs!:

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Aw, I love stories that make me like the villain more than the main character. Or, you know, at least actually sympathize for the villain. I read and loved The Amaranth Enchantment, and that's what made me request this book from Bloomsbury, as well. I kind of giggled when I saw you had reviewed this. We always seem to read the same books around the same time as each other. xD

Anywho, great review! I can't wait to dig into this one. :)

Allison said...

great review, I felt the same way about the book :)

Danna said...

I haven't read any of Julie's book's yet, but I will soon because of your review! I've been seeing this book around a lot and can't wait to get it. Great review!
-Danna
http://friendlyreaderohyeah.blogspot.com/

miss cindy :) said...

This sounds like a fun and cute book, I'm glad you liked it. I might pick it up as well! Great review :)

Christie (The Fiction Enthusiast) said...

Great review! I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. Thanks for the review!

Amber Skye said...

Insightful review! Sometimes you just need a clean, cute book. I'll definitely have to check this one out sometime.

A Canadian Girl said...

I haven't read this one yet but since it's on my wishlist, it's good to see that you liked it. Great review!

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I love your review for this one! It definitely sounds sweet, and while it's not something that would have stood out for me before, I definitely want to read it now :)

 
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