By A Charm & A Curse by Jaime Questell was one of those super highly anticipated books that I pretty much threw down everything and started to read the second it arrived in the mail. I was looking forward to reading about this beautiful, charmed carnival full of curses and characters that I was going to end up swooning over, and from the moment I started reading, I was taken up in the wonderfully detailed story that offered so much I didn’t want to put it down and return to reality.
I loved this book from the very first page – the cover is beautiful (I love the hot pink and black!), and the story on the pages is full of magic, life, and excitement. It’s the kind of book that you won’t want to put down because it will have drawn you in from the very beginning!
“‘From right now until the minute you pass on the curse, we are linked,’ Leslie says. ‘The carnival thrives when you thrive. It suffers when you suffer. We need you and you need us, and there is nothing that will change that fact.'”
Emmaline, or Emma, is having a hard time adjusting to her move. She tries to keep her old friend, and the novel starts off by the two of them spending time at a traveling carnival together. However, when they have a bit of an argument and they separate, Emma finds her way to the fortune telling booth, which is run by a boy who has given her a coin beforehand randomly and told her to stop by. So when she stops by and receives a strange fortune, which tells her that she will be taking a fall, she shrugs it off. When the same boy who was in the fortune telling booth asks her to spend time with him, taking her up to the top of the Ferris wheel with a bottle of wine, the night doesn’t end the way she had hoped it would at all. After a struggle and a fall from the Ferris wheel, Emma changes – and she will find out soon that the change she has undergone is part of the curse of the traveling carnival – and that now she will be the one in the fortune telling booth.
Now Emma will be linked to the carnival – permanently – unless she can pass the curse to someone else.
“Leslie told me Sidney was saddled with the curse for fifty years. Fifty years of not breathing, not tasting, not feeling your heart pound in your chest. Fifty years of the cold. Fifty years of not being able to feel things beneath your fingertips.
My parents might be dead and my brothers old men by the time I’m free.”
At first, Emma is confused about the whole idea behind the curse, and what it does in relation to the carnival.
Not only is her body changed, but her outlook is changed as well. She watches those in the carnival, as they slowly become her friends, suffer accidents, and she doesn’t know how to change that. She’s supposed to be keeping them safe as the new Girl-in-the-Box, so why are so many bad things happening?
Benjamin is the son of the carnival’s carpenter, and he helps out with the carnival as needed. Friends with several, hated by others, Ben is looking for a way to get out of the carnival. When plans with his best friend fall through and he decides to stick around for a while, he meets Emma and is taken with her, and the two of them quickly form a friendship – and then something a little more.
“‘The curse can be passed on, yes, with lies and falsehoods and charm.’ She looks at me then, not at Emma. Her gray eyes are sharp enough to cut. ‘But the curse can be broken with love – true love, the bond of soul mates – honesty, and above all, sacrifice.'”
When Ben and Emma go searching for a way to break the curse that is supposed to be holding the charm together to keep the carnival intact and unharmed, they discover that the one true way to break the curse is love – and the ultimate sacrifice.
By A Charm & A Curse is probably one of the most original and fun carnival based books that I have ever read. The story is so richly imagined and full of excitement that there is no way you could be bored, even for a second. I loved the whole idea behind the curse and the charm that it casts, and when things begin to fall apart it’s interesting to watch the story unfold as Emma and Benjamin try to come up with a way to fix it.
Their relationship was the slow burn kind, and it was seriously one of the most romantic kind of relationships I’ve read in a book in a while. It was sweet, and I loved it. I loved both Emma and Benjamin, and think that the author wrote them wonderfully. The supporting characters in the novel, such as Sidney (the original Boy-in-the-Box) were also interesting and full of personality, so they added wonderful additions to the story.
The fast pace of the book keeps it interesting, and the friendships and relationships that unfold add so much to the novel. I love the magic behind both the charm and the curse, and the originality of how they go hand in hand.
By A Charm & A Curse is definitely a fun filled carnival tale with plenty of magic, mystery, intrigue, and just the right amount of romance!