Friday 29 May 2020

Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants - Review

Book cover: Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants
Today I’m welcoming a first time visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm, Kara Pleasants, who has written a tale placing Pride & Prejudice in a world where magic exists. I first read this story years ago when it was posted online, so I was really pleased to see that Disenchanted has now been published with Quills and Quartos. Let’s look at the blurb and then we’ll move on to my review of the book.

Book Description

Disenchanted is a tale of wizardry, enchantment, disenchantment, the good and the bad, all thrown in with the characters of Pride and Prejudice. Mr Darcy, a renowned wizard, reluctantly joins his friend Mr Bingley at his country estate in Hertfordshire (a place that is not known for its magic). The gentlemen are lying low tracking the threat of a new dark wizard on the loose who is stealing people’s magic. Darcy is surprised to discover more excitement than he bargained for in the form of Miss Elizabeth Bennet who possesses a singular talent: she is not only immune to magic, but she can counter enchantments as well. Despite their initial dislike of each other, Darcy and Elizabeth are drawn closer as the threat of the Thieving Necromancer grows. As Elizabeth learns to unravel more and more complicated magic, she also uncovers dark secrets and breaks mysterious enchantments—but will Darcy ever discover the way to her heart.

Book cover: Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants
Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants - Review

Disenchanted sets Pride & Prejudice in a world where magic exists as a normal, everyday part of life. People from the lowliest farmer can do magic. In Meryton we meet Mr Bennet, who had been an extremely talented wizard some 25 years ago, Mrs Bennet, who is rumoured to have had access to an extremely efficacious love potion to capture Mr Bennet’s interest, given her lowly origins. Their daughters are known locally for their beauty, but also for their talents – Jane is known for her healing and happiness spreading, Mary for her knowledge of magic lore and history, and the two youngest for their flirtation and charm.

The second daughter remained a mystery to the inhabitants of Hertfordshire. Miss Elizabeth Bennet did not seem, or even claim, to possess any magical ability at all.

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, the son of a very distinguished wizarding family, is used to being seen as a matrimonial catch, and therefore is always on guard:

“I would not wish for Darcy’s complete armoured shield. With such implacability, one is not likely to let anything through, enchanted or not. Perhaps I am open to love.”

The first time Darcy meets Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly we see how overwhelmed he is by the atmosphere, which makes him a bit less rude than in canon:

The entire room seemed to be swimming with primitive magic. Everything from hair fasteners to beauty enhancements to dancing improvement charms – Darcy detected wafts of it all. He was soon stricken by a splitting headache.

Mr Darcy finds something different about the second Miss Bennet, something that warrants further investigation. He is enticed by her, both personally, and because he suspects that she does have a power… something very unusual. He thinks his interest in her is entirely due to the magic, but in this he is fooling himself:

“The female pixie always appears in the form of one’s hearts’ desire – whatever that may be?”
“Well–“ Darcy blushed. “That is correct, in theory – although I am certain, that is – that was not what I was thinking of.”

Disenchanted is a variation of Pride & Prejudice with magical elements but there’s also a mystery. Somebody is stealing other people’s magic. But’s it’s not clear who is doing it and why. There’s also the mystery of why Mr Bennet isn’t keen for his daughters to fully explore their talents when he is famed as having been very talented when he was younger.

One thing I loved about this story is just how many elements of P&P are woven into this magical reality, such as Jane’s illness at Netherfield being caused by a potion, instead of catching a cold. The magic is so naturally part of the story, it’s really charming.

There are also some lovely Shakespearean references, like the Wizarding Court greeting each other with a quote from Hamlet, to ensure that people are who they say they are, and references to As You Like It etc.

In a world where people are on the lookout for magical deceptions, somebody who is skilled in deception without magic could be harder to spot, which is an interesting thought:

“The most talented of liars have no need of enchantments – they lie without the aid of any magic, and are therefore the most dangerous.”

I really enjoyed the mysteries in this book, as I mention earlier there is more than one and it was fun to speculate how things would turn out. I worked out some of the side mysteries but the main one I didn’t quite manage, so I had the enjoyment of it folding out in front of me.

The only thing I would have liked is a little bit more romance, there wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me! However, I really enjoyed this magical take on Pride & Prejudice and I’d rate it as a 4½ star read.

4½ star read

Author Biography

Author Kara Pleasants
Kara Pleasants lives in a lovely hamlet called Darlington in Maryland, where she and her husband are restoring an 18th century farm in Susquehanna State Park. They have two beautiful and vivacious daughters, Nora and Lina. A Maryland native, Kara spent a great deal of her childhood travelling with her family, and spent six years living in Siberia, as well as five years in Montana, before finally making her way back home to attend the University of Maryland.

Kara is currently a high school English teacher at Parkville High School. She previously taught for Harford and Prince George’s County Public Schools, the University of Maryland, and Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Community Colleges. She will never forget the first ninth-grade English class she ever taught at Oxon Hill, whose courage and artistry might be the reason she still teaches today. Her hobbies include making scones for the farmer’s market; writing poetry; watching fantasy shows;making quilts; directing an Episcopal church choir; and dreaming about writing an epic three-part fantasy series for her daughters.

Facebook: @pleasantauthor

Book cover: Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants
Buy Links

Disenchanted is available to buy now in paperback and on Kindle. It’s also available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

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  1. I love the idea of Elizabeth being magically different and thus intriguing Darcy! I have also read a few comments where the villain of the piece remains a mystery to the end.
    I certainly look forward to reading this, it’s on my shopping list!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Ceri.

    1. Thanks Glynis! Canon Elizabeth intrigues Darcy because she's different and this Elizabeth is different from other people too. I loved that aspect.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts,Ceri.

    I’m not usually persuaded into reading books with magic but this seems like a very interesting story.

    Such a pity it was as deprived of that extra essential spoon of romance that would have made this a 5* read.

    Hope you and yours are safe.

    1. Thanks so much Mary. I really enjoyed the magic in this book as it was so naturally woven in.

  3. Hopefully the story contains a likeable protrayal of Mary Bennet

    1. She's not in it much as the focus doesn't stay long in Meryton. The Mary in this book is very well learned in magical history.

  4. I enjoyed this! I thought the P&P story was totally plausible in this setting and the relationship between D&E smart and emotive. Outstanding debut!

  5. Interesting twist on a variation.

    Can't believe the author and I don't live that far apart in the same county.


    1. That's so funny that you live so close, when you consider how big the USA is! If you read this book you can be supporting a local business :)

  6. I really liked this one too Ceri, and like you, the mystery was one of my favourite parts in the story :)

  7. I read and enjoyed this one also.

  8. Carole in Canada30 May 2020 at 13:53

    Lovely review, Ceri. I am definitely intrigued with this one, not just for the magic but for the mystery of it all! I do enjoy a good mystery.

  9. I did love how the magic felt organic to the story and the mysteries were great. Enjoyed your review, Ceri!


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