We are so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Jaime Questell’s book By a Charm and a Curse! Make sure you add this to your TBR shelf – just check out the summary and my review below! Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to enter a pretty awesome giveaway!By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on February 6th 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
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.
The cover is what initially drew me to By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell but once I read the summary I knew I had to read it. It revolves around a traveling circus called Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic, and the circus is bound by a charm which is held together by a curse. The story is told from two points of view – Emmaline and Benjamin.
When Emmaline King goes to the circus with her friend, she is drawn to a mysterious boy in a booth that proclaims to tell your future. When he talks her into taking his break with him, the start to chat about her life and this is what seals her fate. As Emmaline elaborates on how she just moved back to town and is having a hard time fitting back in, they decide to get on the ferris wheel with a bottle of wine and things take a turn for Emmaline.
I mentioned the charm and the curse…well the charm protects the members of the circus. There are two aspects to it – first, it stops the circus workers from growing older once they hit about 20 years of age. Secondly, when the charm is working, the workers don’t get hurt, no matter how dangerous their act is. Unfortunately, the curse balances this out as the person who occupies the fortune booth is not only trapped and forced to travel with the circus, but they essentially become a puppet in a box until they have the opportunity to pass the curse on to the next person. When Emma ends up with the curse, I couldn’t help feeling bad for her. She is forced into something she never asked for and now has to live with the consequences. She also must be strong enough to be willing to put someone else through the same thing she has gone through in order to get rid of it.
Ben is part of the circus and does odd jobs and work around the grounds. He and his mother have been with the circus since his father died and he is saving his money and fixing up his car, so he can get away. His mother is somewhat controlling, and he really just wants to put down roots and stop traveling so he can figure out who he is supposed to be, and he can’t do that with the circus or the charm. As he and his friend Marcel plan to revisit their timeline for leaving, Emma joins the circus and priorities change for him.
I loved how Questell built the friendship between Ben and Emma. While there were a lot of supportive people in the crew, Emma was still an outcast as everyone treated her as The Girl in the Box. Ben is the only one who eventually got over what she meant for the circus and treated her just like anyone else. Eventually they begin to have feelings for each other and they both become motivated to find a way to get rid of the curse. Clearly Emma’s heart isn’t in the fortune telling and as she continues to disconnect from the role, the charm starts to become weaker and everyone is noticing.
As the story moves forward, the other characters in the book help to move things forward, whether it is by helping Emma or by threatening her to do what is expected. There are some bad guys in this story and while I’m not really going to say anything about them, I do have to say I found them to be extremely annoying.
That’s about all I can say without giving anything away and really, you don’t want me to do that. Overall, I enjoyed this book and while there were times that I felt were rushed, I thought the story was original and it held my attention. If you’re looking for something that is different from the other YA Fantasy books out there, consider checking this book out. I will definitely be watching for more from Questell in the future.