Sleeping Beauty is awakened not by Prince Charming, but a Jewish-American graduate student with a penchant for Slavic languages and long distance running. Before beginning his dissertation, Ivan Smetski returns to his childhood home of Ukraine for some research and relaxation. While on a run, he seeks out a meadow in a forest he once came upon as a child. To his surprise, he finds that the woman lying asleep on a pedestal all those years ago was not a figment of his imagination. After defeating a bear that guards Sleeping Beauty, Ivan kisses her and she awakens. From there on out, the looming threat of a wicked witch forces Ivan and Princess Katerina to cross between the 1990s and the 9th Century. Their hope is to defeat the witch and bring safety to Katerina’s village, but stating that their task is difficult is an understatement: Ivan and Katerina don’t exactly hit it off when she awakens from his kiss.
I don’t know if all fantasy fiction is for me, but this book can be credited with my newfound appreciation for the genre. What drew me to the novel was Card’s ability to merge modern, non-fantastical elements with fantasy themes. He presents both a scholarly dialogue on Russian fairytales from Ivan’s perspective as a graduate student, and seamlessly blends this into the storyline taking place within Katerina’s world. This balance between “real” and “fantasy” keeps the novel from being over-the-top. Clever and sarcastic dialogue also adds to the appeal making “Enchantment” a pretty funny read.