The Enchantment of Abigail Brown by Mark Waters
Review by Jasper de Joode
Abigail is a smart girl, her gangly figure and flame red hair making her a target for taunts and trouble, but she’s a tough nut with an inner strength that will mould her destiny. A chance discovery propels Abby into a world of adventure, a parallel world of magic and dragons, a world where she belongs – the world of Nousidia. Embarking on a journey across this new world, Abby discovers her real self and comes face to face with an evil far worse than her school bullies: the witch Belladora. Her father captured… her world at war… her life changed forever! Can Abby find the strength to survive?
The Enchantment of Abigail Brown is the first book in a planned 12 book series by author Mark Waters. The 12 books are to be divided into 4 trilogies. With already such plans for writing a big series, the first book can either make it or break it. For me it was both a yes and no.
I was very pleased with the introduction to Abigail and the enchanted world of Nousidian. The story takes off lightly and you get to know Abigail, her friend Tom and her father. I even did not find it a bother of another story of a young girl venturing into a magical world. This was mainly due to the great story telling where Mark Waters really wanted to speak to the imagination of the reader. And the numerous possibilities that Nousidian had to offer.
I got the feeling that there was taken an great amount of time in placing everything into Nousidia: the races, the places, what should occur where and when. I hope that this can be seen in each and every book. As Abigail makes her way in search of her father through Nousidia she is accompanied by Apollo and Arnold. Both Apollo and Arnold had already made appearances in the real world, but in Nousidia they change from being a dog and a cat to warriors – just magical. A nice ring was given to how Nousidia was accessible. Through a garden gate. Abigail and her father were living in the garden house and this gave again many possibilities on what their role was. Were they gate keepers?
Another part that I liked about The Enchantment of Abigail Brown was the introduction of a family member as the villain. The background of Belladora was nice, and aunt turned evil by her husband. Using a family member as a villain has proven to be successful in other stories, it can create a certain sense of intrigue between the main character and villain and allow for an interesting plot line. I found it a pity that Belladora did not make more appearances. Like interludes here and there to show her scheming.
With only these features I thought that The Enchantment of Abigail Brown would be a very magical and enchanting children’s story but that was for me not quite true.
After the introduction in Nousidia things changed pretty fast. The pacing in the overall story is great as well as the descriptions. The change that bothered me the most is the rapid character growth of Abigail and how she is portrayed from scene to scene – this lacked consistency for me. From the prologue you skip 12 and a half years to the first chapter. So okay, an almost 13 year old not a problem. In Nousidia, Abigail suddenly gets portrayed as a 16-18 year old in my opinion while her character’s sayings still makes her a 13 year old to say the least. When she screams “Mummy!” in one scene and then decapitates an soldier in the next was just too contradictory for me. The same thing goes for the learning; she takes fighting lessons for 3 days and attends the Academy of Philosophers for 5 days and all of a sudden she is the only on who can save the fate of Nousidia. Well come on… This defeating of the evil aunt trying to gain a hold on the kingdom could have been brilliantly spread over several novels, where we really get to know Abigail and her friends with a true, coming of age tale.
The Enchantment of Abigail Brown is enjoyable read and most likely the young readers will not notice the above mentioned criticism, they will see Abby, female heroine, savior of Nousidia, and princess to be. And with this Mark Waters HAS created a really enchanting, rich, and magical story with very solid world building.
Lilly from UK
Nousidia is place that is so amazingly real in my imagination. Mark Waters describes it so well and you can't help loving (or hating) the characters. I love this book and am reading the second: The Enlightenment of Abigail Brown at the moment. I think the criticisms above are a little harsh as the whole point, as far as I can see, is that Mark's world is very different to ours. If you're looking for an amazing, magical world to escape to I would highly recommend this series. Bring on book 3 !!
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