A Fragile Enchantment

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A Fragile Enchantment
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
January 02, 2024
ISBN
978-1250892836
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In this romantic fantasy of manners from New York Times bestselling author Allison Saft, a magical dressmaker commissioned for a royal wedding finds herself embroiled in scandal when a gossip columnist draws attention to her undeniable chemistry with the groom.

Niamh Ó Conchobhair has never let herself long for more. The magic in her blood that lets her stitch emotions and memories into fabric is the same magic that will eventually kill her. Determined to spend the little time she has left guaranteeing a better life for her family, Niamh jumps at the chance to design the wardrobe for a royal wedding in the neighboring kingdom of Avaland.

But Avaland is far from the fairytale that she imagined. While young nobles attend candlelit balls and elegant garden parties, unrest brews amid the working class. The groom himself, Kit Carmine, is prickly, abrasive, and begrudgingly being dragged to the altar as a political pawn. But when Niamh and Kit grow closer, an unlikely friendship blossoms into something more—until an anonymous gossip columnist starts buzzing about their chemistry, promising to leave them alone only if Niamh helps to uncover the royal family’s secrets. The rot at the heart of Avaland runs deep, but exposing it could risk a future she never let herself dream of, and a love she never thought possible.

Transporting readers to a Regency England-inspired fantasy world, A Fragile Enchantment is a sweeping romance threaded with intrigue, unforgettable characters, and a love story for the ages.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
charming YA romantasy
Overall rating
 
3.7
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
A FRAGILE ENCHANTMENT is an intriguing YA romantic fantasy about selfishness, living for yourself, and sacrifice. Niamh has family magic, passed down through the generations from the gods, that allows her to imbue the clothing she embroiders with emotions. Being a talented seamstress, her ability has enhanced the things she can make, and it has earned her a job as the seamstress for the upcoming wedding of the Avlish prince, Christopher (Kit), to a princess of a neighboring kingdom.

Niamh comes from Machland, a former colony of Avaland, whose separation was quite deadly and left a lot of poor feelings in its wake. As such, her invitation is particularly noteworthy, as even though they consider her divine blooded for her magic, she is seen as less than for being Machlish. Arriving in the court, her naivete leads her to make plenty of missteps, but her honesty and passion have driven her to create incredible attire for the wedding. In the process, she gets to know Kit, the prince to be wed, and their feelings grow. However, the political alliance being struck is necessary for the kingdom, and Niamh is only a commoner.

What I loved: This story presented a charming romance. Niamh and Kit get to know each other quickly throughout the story, in part because they have not had other people in their lives who have given them the opportunity. They both live on their sacrifices of self and seek to do the best they can for their families. This builds a quick connection between them with a bit of a sunshine-and-grumpy romance trope.

Niamh is an earnest character, who has not faced much darkness or adversity in her life. She is somewhat guileless, and her time in the court is full of wonder and learning about herself and the world as it is. Politics begin to come into play, and she finds herself considering the importance of different sides and what it all means, especially as there is much unrest from the Machlish working in Avaland, who are underpaid and overworked by virtue of their immigrant status.

Kit is an even more compelling character, and we get glimpses into his troubled past with complicated parental relationships and mental illness (addiction) coloring his reactions. While the story is told entirely from Niamh's point-of-view, the reader does get some key insights into his character through their discussions.

Themes around politics, equality, sacrifice, family, socioeconomic status, LGBT, and immigration are intriguing throughout. While the focus remains on the relationship, these appear throughout the story, giving it a deeper backdrop to consider.

What left me wanting more: As the focus remains on the romance, there were some other plots that did not fully play out, such as Niamh's family illness which changes her hair to white. While the Machlish equality protests were a big part of the story, their resolution was not fully discussed and would have been interesting and important to see play out. The romance could be tough to connect with, as the reader only has Niamh's point-of-view. It would have been even stronger if we could have seen more of Kit's side and go more in depth in his history and emotions.

Final verdict: Overall, A FRAGILE ENCHANTMENT is an charming YA romantic fantasy that will work best for readers who would like a cute sunshine/grumpy romance with a bit of magic on the side.
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Fantasy Romance Set in the Regency Era
Overall rating
 
3.7
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft is a standalone fantasy romance that reads like Bridgerton with a touch of magic. Niamh Ó Conchobhair is a commoner with divine blood, able to weave her magic into the fabrics she makes. She can make the wearer beautiful to those around them, provide comfort or create a shield all with the clothes she crafts. Her magic comes with a price though, her own health. So when she is asked to the royal dressmaker for the younger prince’s wedding, Niamh jumps at the chance to make her dreams a reality.

Niamh is an interesting character. I enjoyed being in her POV for the entirety of the story. Everything she experiences in the Avlish court is her first time just like the reader, making it easy to connect to her and empathize with her as she navigates her way through the prejudices of the court. Niamh’s honesty and innocence (for lack of better word) paves the way for her to create relationships with those around her. These new friendships come easily to her, all but one: Prince Christopher, or Kit to his friends and family.

Kit is not an easily likable character. He’s closed off, disagreeable, and bluntly honest which isn’t always a good thing. While you never have to wonder what he is thinking, his honesty is often unkind. Niamh, who is so likable that most who speak to her like her instantly, is unable to connect to Kit, who often antagonizes her and angers her. While their relationship is an enemy to lovers trope, I personally didn’t buy into it. The chemistry just wasn’t there for me.

Despite liking Niamh, I really struggled with this one. I wanted to like it. I was excited to pick it up and dove in with such high hopes that I was really disappointed when it failed to live up to my expectations. Niamh is really the only bright spot for me. The romance in this fantasy was blah, and the story itself dragged on much longer than it should have. By the time I reached the 70% mark, I found myself skimming to see how the story would end. I just was not invested in the characters, their story, or the romance.

Then there is the fantasy portion of the book. I’ve read and really enjoyed Saft’s other books so I was excited to see how she wove magic into this story. Unfortunately, it felt like an afterthought. While Niamh, Kit, and his brother Jack, all have divine blood, meaning they control some aspect of magic, it isn’t explained. There are no rules to this magical world. The Blight that is mentioned multiple times which affects Niamh’s homeland and was caused by the Avlish is never resolved or explained. Really disappointing.

Overall, A Fragile Enchantment was an okay read for me. I think this was truly a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” The romance, the fantasy, and the story itself were just okay. I didn’t really love any of the characters. Niamh’s naïveté wore on me, and by the end of the book, I no longer believed her so called innocent act. The surprises and twists were predictable. The only bright spot of this story is the regency era setting as the Avlish court is inspired by British court. If you are a fan of fantasy romance, specifically regency era, you may enjoy it more than I did.
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