The Enchanted Riddle by Charlotte Kandel
|The Enchanted Riddle by Charlotte Kandel|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: An obnoxious narrator and a rather flat supporting cast make this tale of ballet in the 1920's one which I wouldn't personally recommend. If the subject matter really appeals to you then it may still be worth taking a look at, though.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2012|
|Publisher: Strident Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
Daphne, a thirteen-year-old orphan in London in the 1920s, has two dreams. She longs to find a family and to become a ballerina – but both seem equally impossible. Then a package from an anonymous sender, with a magical pair of stockings and a strange riddle, seems to give her the opportunity to make her dreams come true. Can she get the happiness and success she's always longed for, or will the interference of others stop her from achieving it?
This mixture of historical fiction, magic elements, and stage drama is a quick and easy read but rather on the melodramatic side, and suffers from the author's tendency to hammer home the moralising here. Central character Daphne is an insufferable brat and while the villainess of the piece is absolutely loathsome I have to admit that I was half-hoping she'd succeed in her evil plans, I was getting so irritated by the supposed heroine. Most of the supporting characters – the hard-working Cockneys who adopt her, the woman who takes on something of a 'fairy godmother' role and the servant with a grim expression but a good heart – could have come straight out of central casting. In fairness, I liked Daphne's friends back in London and another dancer she meets later on in the story, though.
The plot is rather simple and predictable but it's serviceable enough and Kandel does a good job of evoking the era the book is set in. I wasn't too keen on the 'chirpy Cockney' way that Daphne's new family spoke but thought the other characters' dialogue was quite good and seemed fitting for the time period. Kandel's straightforward writing style make it an easy enough read for older primary school children to tackle by themselves with few, if any, problems and it will certainly entertain them for a few hours.
Overall, I'm hesitant to recommend this particularly strongly because I feel the characters are just too flat in the main part and that Daphne's not a likeable enough lead to make up for this. Having said that, it has its merits and those who are especially interested in either ballet or the time period may find themselves enjoying it rather more than I did.
If you're looking for really magical historical fiction for this age range, don't miss the Kat Stephenson Chronicles, starting with A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis - one of the very best current series.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Enchanted Riddle by Charlotte Kandel at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Enchanted Riddle by Charlotte Kandel at Amazon.com.
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