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Young Adult Fiction 138
intriguing YA fantasy
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BEGUILED is an intriguing YA fantasy about magic, power, and desire. Ella lost her father a few years earlier due to his debts, and she is close to following in his footsteps. The man from whom she borrows is asking for repayment in one way or another, and she feels out of options. The stories of the Bean-Nighe at the river are looking better and better - what price would she pay for a wish?

After her loom breaks, ruining any chance of hope, Ella is out of options and decides to make a wish with the Bean-Nighe to have it fixed. All the Bean-Nighe asks in return is a drop of blood when she weaves. Returning home, it all seems too good to be true, especially when the fabric she weaves is more stunning than anything she ever could have imagined - with unexpected side effects. As her fabrics get her noticed by the wealthy Callum and open the world to her, Ella begins to realize that the true price of the Bean-Nighe is much more than she ever could have anticipated on several levels.

What I loved: This is a story that grows darker as Ella becomes more steeped amongst the wealthy and the magic of her loom. At its heart, it is a story of hunger and desire for something more. Themes around wealth disparity, want, bargains, mistruths, and the games we play make this a thought-provoking read. Ella lives in poverty, desiring to make things by hand, but her path into security is through the benevolence of those around her. She is willing to work herself to the bone to achieve what she wants, and her new benefactor places her value on her products.

Ella is a compelling character, who hungers for more, but is faced with a society who discards her for the very reason she has to work. Her value is tied into her product plus luck in selling it. As the loom exacts its price while creating a magical product, Ella is enchanted by the possibilities of what it can bring. Ella is somewhat isolated amidst the glitz and glamor, particularly considering that they seem incapable of accepting someone of the working class.

The story unfolds in an intriguing way, becoming darker as Ella moves forward. While the reader can see some things coming, the way Ella reacted to it all was a great twist, and the ending became something different. The mythology and magic of the story was enchanting, and just enough knowledge woven throughout to help the reader understand.

Final verdict: BEGUILED is a magical YA fantasy about power, want, and poverty with compelling characters and surprising twists. Recommend for fans of GILDED, WISHTRESS, and THE WISH GRANTER.
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