18 November, 2017

{ ARC Review } By a Charm & a Curse by Jaime Questell

about the book }

By a Charm & a Curse by Jaime Questell
Standalone novel
Publishes February 6, 2018 by Entangled Publishing
e-ARC provided by Netgalley
Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.


my review }

♫ ♫

I desperately wanted to like By a Charm & a Curse because, let's face it, any book set in a carnival setting and compared to The Night Circus is basically my kryptonite. And book definitely had the potential to be something great! With an interesting backdrop and setting and an intriguing curse at its hear, there was a lot that could have been done with this debut. 

But its downfall was the pacing, or, really, the overall length of the book. Had it been longer, I'm sure that the author would have had more time to properly pace this book. Things moved waaaaay too quickly here. There's a key difference between a fast-paced book and what I'm talking about. This was just rushed, which affected key areas such as relationships and the overall plot.

And it's not just the romance that I'm talking about, though I will touch on that briefly. There are other relationships in the book that I would have liked to see, both good at bad (i.e., Benjamin and his mother, The Boy in the Box and another certain character). But, that's the thing. I only got brief glimpses at what was, what could have been. Because of that, it kept the characters at an arm's length—I didn't fully get to know them or even like them. I wanted to see a bit more backstory, not just for the sake of it, but to understand them as they are currently in the carnival.

Speaking of the carnival itself... I was so disappointed! I know it's just a setting, but it's also extremely crucial to the story itself. But it felt like it was hardly described—to me at least. I didn't feel immersed there. And... I don't know, I guess I just expected it to be more important? There's a whole curse, a charm set in the middle of it. Shouldn't it have been more important?

Now, for the romance. It wasn't bad, but it had the main issue I talked about earlier—way too rushed. Not necessarily insta-anything, just overall rushed. Both Emma and Ben had distinguished voices, which I really liked, but I felt I never really got to explore more of them as individuals, to be honest. In the end, I felt like they were together just for the sake of getting together because I didn't really buy their romance. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I did like Ben well enough. I thought he was a good guy and a decent character. As for Emma, I... okay. I did like her, but what I didn't like was how little she fought with the situation she was put in. It was extremely unfair and, this is probably just a me-thing, but she seemed to accept it way too easily. Hey, like I said, this could just be me complaining because I completely missed that she was like that, but still. 

Overall, the potential was there but alas. I did like it, for what it's worth, but mostly, I would have just liked to see more.


buy the book }

about the author }

Jaime Questell is a writer and graphic designer from Houston, Texas. She has also been a bookseller, a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and an administrative assistant. None of these jobs involved wrangling corgis, which is quite sad. She lives in the ‘burbs with her husband, children, very anxious dog, one surly cat, and one recently acquired cojack, which is what happens when a corgi and Jack Russell terrier combine to make doggy magic. 

Represented by Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

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