A delicious novel with a fun setting
Emmaline King is slowly adjusting to her new town. Nothing particularly exciting happens there, so when the Le Grand Carnival Fantastic rolls in, she’s ready to have some fun. But the carnival isn’t all it seems, and one spontaneous kiss with a carnival performer changes everything. Emmaline’s body stiffens, hardens, and finally settles into a life-size doll version of herself. She now must perform as the Girl in the Box if she ever wants to leave the mysterious carnival whose existence is meshed with both a charm and a curse, both with herself at the center.
BY A CHARM AND CURSE has one of the most fun, unique premises I’ve read. Le Grand Carnival Fantastic is a mesmerizing and enticing setting with marvels in every scene. Author Jaime Questell walks the tight-rope of the dark and light sides of magic throughout the novel while connecting it to broader issues of sacrifice, heartache, love, and pain.
As much as I love the magic, what truly captures the reader is Emmaline. Her emotional journey is staggeringly real, especially when she first understands what happened to her when she kissed the Boy in the Box and what she now must do if she wants to be free. She is forced to question her own character, her morals, and everything she believes in, and she feels the weight of the possible consequences any of her actions could have. During her journey, she falls for Ben, who has been trying to escape the carnival life for years. I love how they slowly open up to each other, and I appreciated the realistic dilemmas both are in, especially when it comes to the curse.
With a gorgeous setting, a sweet romance, and a story that demands your attention (no matter what the time on the clock says), BY A CHARM AND A CURSE is a delicious novel for those who know magic can be as dangerous as it can be helpful.