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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
These stories vary a lot in content and feel, but they're all wonderful. Each is well-written, with strong female characters.

"Rikiki and the Wizard" is written as a "S'Rian Folk Story", for a book of stories about an imaginary place called Liavek. It begins with a wizard who is very lucky and very famous. But, having fame, he wants it to last forever. So he decides to offer his daughter Ryvenna (beautiful, but more importantly, clever and kind) in marriage to a god. The gods are miffed that he didn't ask her or them, so they agree not to come when he summons them. One god, the blue chipmunk Rikiki, forgets. The wizard can't get Rikiki to fulfill his wish, since the only thing Rikiki is interested in is nuts. He doesn't know what fame is, so he can't bestow it. The wizard rapidly looses patience and tries to get rid of Rikiki, but his third attempt is foiled by Ryvenna. She explains things to Rikiki- but the result (I've told most of the plot, but I won't tell the entirity of this) is more like Midas for the wizard than anything else. Ryvenna, however, prospers.

"The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn" is about a talking cat, a vain unicorn, and a princess from a country called Oslett where nothing goes the way it does in the usual fairy tales. The fairies don't live close enough put curses on the Princesses, the only giant in the kingdom is nice, and the middle princess, Elyssa, is the one who gets an adventure. No one minds except the king's councelors, who are a pain. That's why Elyssa leaves; unlike in many stories, her family is enthusiastic. Also, she goes on an adventure for the sake of adventure, which very few women in fantasy do. Most of them are either running away or rescuing someone, which is fine, but overmany stories go like that. This one's fun.

"Roses by Moonlight" opens with a teenaged girl named Adrian on her driveway smoking to avoid her sister's party. Her mother comes home and on the way in, says, "If you are given a choice, be careful, be wise", and "I never thought there might be other dreams..." A strange woman then appears, taking Adrian into a rose garden that never existed before. Adrian is told that each rose holds a possible future, and if she plucks one, that is what will happen. She smells each flower to see what hte possibilities are. Some are wonderful; some are terrible, like a vision of herself dying because of her smoking. But in all of them, she finds an undercurrent of hate for her sister Sam, who is the kind of person everything goes right for. Adrian finally finds a barely opened rose that shows only a small future: not a vision of a time when she and Sam are on good terms, but a time when they talk about their envy for each other. She nearly picks it, but the memory of what her mother said keeps her from taking it. She ends up deciding to make her own future like everyone else. This is set in roughly modern times.

"The Sixty-Two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd" is about a girl called Imani, daughter of the grand vizier. It's set in an Arabian Nights kind of setting. Caliph Arenschadd is a wizard, and he has a list of sixty-two curses which he puts on anyone who gets on his nerves. Imani says that she can tell how long someone's been at court by which curse he has. Since the caliph curses peoples' families along with them, she and her mother (a sorceress) have been through fourty-seven curses with her father. Imani found some fun, some boring. This one is different. There's no cure, and it has made them werewolves. Imani enjoys part of htis, but it is too dangerous to let it stay. She manages to get rid of it when her parents (and the caliph) fail, with a little help from a friend who turns out to be the prince. The only story I've ever read where getting the ruler mad solves the problem rather than causing it.

"Earthwitch" is about a woman named Mariel, who is a vessal of the Earth Magic, and Evan Rydingsword, a king who used to be her lover. This isn't a story I can describe well, but it is good. THe idea of life as well as death being "the coin of hte Earth" was interesting, clever, and sensible.

"The Sword-Seller" is set in the Witch World. The main character, a mercenary named Auridan, is given a sword which he insists on paying for, a sword with a handle carved like a feathered serpent. He is then hired by a forthright, poor woman named Cyndal to take her to a relative. Cyndal is a strong character, but not very much in the story. Another hard to talk aobut one but good. While in "Earthwitch" the magic rules the characters and helps them for its own price, in its own way, in "The Sword-Seller", Auridan refuses to obey the laws of the magic in the story, thus destroying the artifact of magic, and freeing the sword-seller from an old and perilous duty.

"The Lorelei"- a high school girl outwits a siren-like creature and saves the life of a classmate she doesn't like much. Set in modern times.

"Stronger Than Time" Everyone says this story is dark. It is not. It is a story of what might have happened if the prince in Sleeping Beauty had been too impatient, and come in the wrong time. It's a sad story, but it is gracefully written. Una's words, quoted by Arven- "Time and death are the greatest enemies all of us must face, and the only weapon stronger than they are is love." That's what the story is about- not ghosts, curses, or magic. It's about love and faith, and righting one's own mistakes.

"Cruel Sisters" is my least favorite story in the book, although it's written well. This is the darkest story. Princess Margaret has spent all her life in between a terrible rivalry between her sisters Anne and Eleanor, who basicly hate each other. It gets worse when Eleanor marries the man both she and Anne love. (Margaret, called Meg, dislikes him.) Shortly after, Eleanor drowns in the river. The entire court- even Anne- mourns. Then, a few monthes later, a minstrel brings a harp to court that is made of Eleanor's bones and strung with her hair. It also sings with her voice and accuses Anne of murdering her. Anne tehn smashes the harp. Everyone thinks that this proves the trut hfo what it says- eccept the last sister. Meg says, "My sister Eleanor was a liar all her life, and all her life she cast the blame for her own errors on Anne. Why should death have changed that?" Meg isn't certain that Anne is innocent, since she hated Eleanor and had a fiery temper, but she does not trust the harp's words. She is the only one to doubt. Anne is put in a convent and dies. Meg feels remorse at not telling everyone how deep her sisters' rivalry went, but can't change what happened or what everyone beleives. She can only talk about her insights into others, and hope to avert any ohter tragedy. The unsolved murder mystery and the harp made of Eleanor's bones, make this story dark. But it is still well-written. A master's tale, but not one that is easy to read.

"Utensile Strength" takes place in the Enchanted Forest, with Cimorene, Mendanbar, and Daystar. The story is hilarious, and involves the Frying Pan of Doom, which was made by an enchanter trying to creat an ultimate weapon when he tripped over his pet pig and enchanted his wife's best frying pan. They can't give it to a hero because no one can touch it without an oven mit, and heros find taht undignified. With a combined cooking contest/tourney, interupted by another mighty enchanter, the propper weilder is found. MUCH better than it sounds.

"Quick After-Battle Chocolate Cake" is the recipe that won the cooking contest.

Wrede explains at the back were the ideas for each of hte stories came from. That's a great part.

These aren't really children's stories. Actualy, some are good for kids, but some are way too dark for young ones. I like "Stronger Than Time", "Earthwitch", "Roses by Moonlight" and "The Sword-Seller" "The Lorelei" now, and I can read "Cruel Sisters", but a few years ago I wouldn't have understood or liked them, and "Cruel Sisters" would have disturbed me. Some of hte others are just complicated, or have dark elements like death and hatred that I needed time to deal with. "Rikiki and the Wizard", "Utensile Strength", "THe Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn," and "The Sixty-Two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd" were fine for me when I was yougner, though.

A great book! Read it.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read all the Enchanted Forest chronicles, and I was hoping for more of those stories when I read this. I was not disappointed, this book includes two EF stories. They add a touch of humor, especially the <drumroll> Frying Pan of Doom!. They offset the more serious ones very nicely, like the story about the good and evil swords--Whatsitcalled, Earthwitch, and Roses by Moonlight (doesn't the rose-lady in there remind you of Morwen from EF?) Then, some of the stories in there are, to all practical purposes, just plain spooky, like the story about the enchanted keep and the ghost-prince, Forgotwhatitscalled, and Cruel Sisters. There are also some lighthearted ones that aren't set in EF, like the 62 curses of Caliph Something, and the Rikikki story. That blue chipmunk is just SO CUTE!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As one who has never been a big fan of short stories, as well as one that has never read a Patricia Wrede book before in her life, it was some wonder when I found myself picking up this book at the library and reading the blurb, that promised "a black sword of cruel potency, a plumed serpent drawn from stone, a harp made of bone that sings of murder..." I was hooked.
Each story is clearly and precisely written, and range from comedy to tragedy, from happily-ever-after fairytales to somewhat fractured traditional tales, and each one is a gem. Usually in anthologies there are a few clunkers, but here each one is original, witty and beautifully written. Whether you are a fan of Patricia Wrede's 'Enchanted Forest' books or not, this collection will delight any age group, and is essential to any fairytale lover. Many stories are excellent for reading aloud, and just as many are perfect for curling up under the covers with a torch late at night. This book has my highest recommendation.
To describe each and every story would have me exceeding the word limit on this review, so here are summaries of a few of my favourites, in no particular order-
'The Princess, the Cat and the Unicorn' has all the trademarks of what I quickly became familiar with as Wrede's technique for twisting traditional fairytale stereotypes on their head. Princess Elyssa is the middle sister of three, but she isn't jealous of them, her stepmother isn't trying to kill her, and she is perfectly able to out on adventures of her own. The unicorn in this tale is a welcome relief (as well as a parady) to the myraid of stories out there with gushy, sickly-sweet unicorns out there.
'Earthwitch' is the darker tale of divided lovers who come together once more - the earthwitch Mariel and the lord Evan Rydingsword who comes to her for help against the troops devastating his land. The tension between them rises, but she agrees to help, calling on the earth itself for power. But the costs of such power is a great one, as the two will soon find out.
'The Lorelei' is the German version of the Greek Sirens and said to haunt the Rhine River, luring people to their deaths with her beautiful voice. When Janet and a busload of her mostly unpleasant classmates visit the river they are forced to stay there when their bus breaks down. All seems quiet, but then Janet notices: there seems to be a boy missing...
'Stronger than time' is a strange and beautiful story of lost love, and what would of happened if the prince had never come to awaken Sleeping Beauty. The elderly woodsman Arven, still pining over the death of his wife, is surprised one day by the arrival of a young stranger, desparate to get into the abandoned castle before morning. Fill of beautiful language and poignant storytelling, this one's one of my favourites.
'The Cruel Sisters' is my favourite overall, strange since it isn't actually a happy ending. Based on an old ballad, this story is lyrical, bittersweet, macabre, and beautifully told. With elements of tragedy, betrayal, mystery and horror, it includes a false lover, a harp of bone, a dress in a thorn bush... this one kept me thinking for a long time.
Finally, 'Utensile Strength' is probably what will attract most fans to this anthology as it is set once more in Wrede's 'Enchanted Wood' theme, with all the familiar characters, including Mendanbar, Cimorene and Daystar, dealing with the formidable problem of: the Frying Pan of Doom.
All in all, a great, varied collection - but make sure you read the authors notes at the end, as they feature all her inspiration and resources, whether they be from old ballets or Biblical stories - it's quite interesting. And of course, the famous recipe for the Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is filled with lots of fun, but it also really makes you think. One of my favorite stories was "Roses by Moonlight," in which a young girl is taken to a magical rose garden and asked to choose her destiny. It has lots of depth, emotion, and a cool ending! But some of the other tales take a different turn, into the world of magic, and even comedy. Who says a book of short stories can't have everything?
Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens) once said, "if I had had the time, they all would have been short stories!" It is very true, short stories are among the most difficult to write, but Patricia C. Wrede definitely pulls it off nicely in her "Book of Enchantments."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is funny and sad at the same time. Some stories like The Frying Pan Of Doom or The sixty-two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd are so funny you can't stop laughing. And some stories like Cruel Sisters are so sad but they are my favorite story in the whole book. Some are right in the middle like Roses by moonlight because this story is so true. All I'm saying is that if you want a good read then this is your book. It is a mix of stories. I've read it about 2,000,000,000 times.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a wonderful collection of short stories. Don't let them fool you with the "Grade 5-8" thing -- the stories are ageless. It starts out with the cute and silly ones, involving chipmunks, bizarre wizards, and arrogant unicorns, and then moves on to what I consider the real meat of the book: the story whose title I can't remember either, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from an odd perspective, and the Rose Garden story. Those two are haunting, hard-hitting, Wrede at her finest. It then meanders through other various fantasy worlds (the Earthwitch story is wonderful, for being one of her early works), including the "Cruel Sister" story, based on the ballad with which most fantasy readers are familiar. It ends with a delight for all of her readers, a story called "Utensile Strength" involving Cimorene, Mendanbar, and Daystar (no Shiara, unfortunately). It was great, and the recipe to which others have alluded: it's great, too. I made it for my birthday a couple years ago. It's kind of similar to brownies, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone with a little patience (it was a trip to the store to get all the ingredients).
So: buy the book, make the recipe, and have a wonderful day!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Wrede has done it again! This book is really good. It's funny, charming and neat. I would recommend it to everyone, especially to fans of the Enchanted Forest, Lyra and all of the other places she's written about. I loved all of the stories in the Book.
P.S. The recipe at the back's great, too! And for those of you unfamiliar with the worlds of Patricia Wrede READ THEM SOON! You might also want to check out the the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book of enchantments is a wondeful book, for both fans of the Enchanted Forest Series or people who haven't even read them. The book is filled with small short stories involving Unicorns that won't let dysfunctional princesses go, a garden of roses that each hold a future, and a giant blue chipmunk who gives gold acorns out. All of these stories and more are included, and each one holds a new and exciting plot. I found this book absolutely wonderful, as you never know what exactly will come next. I highly reccomend it to everyone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book when I was 10. I read it again when I was 12. And again at 14. Each time, I found something to marvel about. It's simply magic for growing kids, and beautifully simple for adults.
I loved them all, but here are my personal favorites:
1. ROSES BY MOONLIGHT - With a bit of the "Prodigal Son" thrown in, an older sister has the chance to see how the choices she makes affect her future.
2. EARTHWITCH - Somehow, even the fewest words can reveal the truth of the world.
3. STRONGER THAN TIME - A bittersweet twist to Sleeping Beauty.
4. CRUEL SISTERS - Sibling rivalry at its worst. Tragic and woeful.
5. UTENSILE STRENGTH - Simply hilarious. Makes for light reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Patricia C. Wrede has compiled a variety of stories in The Book of Enchantments. Each one of the eleven is different and unique-- from light and humorous like The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn (in which the unicorn turns out to be vain and foolish) to serious (Earthwitch, Roses by Moonlight) to downright chilling (Cruel Sisters, Stronger than Time). Cruel Sisters in particular is my favorite-- a very clever twist on an old ballad called The Twa Sisters in which the elder sister drowns the younger. Or does she?
If you enjoy these short story compilations, you might also enjoy Vivian Vande Velde's Curses, Inc. and A Wizard's Dozen by various authors.
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