Book Review: By a Charm and a Curse – Jamie Questell

4 stars

Title: By a Charm and a Curse
Author: Jaime Questell
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: February 6th 2018
genre: Young Adult fantasy


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.


Actual rating: 4.5 stars

A kiss is never just a kiss.

This book seriously deserves a big hype!
It was really really really good! I loved it from the first page until the last! It was enchanting and a very smooth read.

I love books were magic has a very steep prize and every magical thing has major consequences. In this story, one person is cursed and all other people who travel with the carnival get the benefits from it (it really sounds like there all complete asses, am I right?). There was also quite a bit magical realism in this book (and I’m a big fan of that genre, so it’s definitely a good thing). There was quite a bit of drama in this book. Romances that went bad. Gruesome accidents that happened. Not a single character was spared from some sort of pain throughout the book.

(little romance spoilers ahead)
Emma and Benjamin are so cute. There romance was a little bit forbidden and that always makes it that more cute than it already is. She is cursed and the is faaar past the “Not tonight honey, I’ve got a headache” stage of not wanting to kiss anyone. But still, they just go for it.
I also loved the other love stories in this book. They were all different from each other (and soooo not boring and generic!). I don’t want to make it sound like this is a book filled with only love stories. It’s never only about that. They really are just a very important background story. We also don’t only see the positive sides of love. Some of the love stories don’t end too well (to put it mildly…).

I loved every single character. A lot of books have characters that are just too perfect, and they can really annoy me. This book really only has realistic characters. They fight, make wrong decisions or just give up from time to time. It makes it so much more easy to connect with them. And if I’m able to connect easy with characters, it’s just more easy for me to really love a book. The bad brother trio was soooo amazing. I really imagined them to be just three Damon Salvatore (from the Vampire Diaries, season 1) wracking havoc and terrorszing quite a lot of people.

This book isn’t really something I’ve never read before, I know that. But it’s executed in an amazing way and it doesn’t feel like something I already read so many times. None of the visitors of the carnival know that there’s a charm. It’s kept as a secret and only the people inside the carnival know about it. To all the other people outside who just visit, it just seems like any other carnival passing through their city. I loved that everything felt so normal and so very magical at the same time!

I didn’t really get Benjamin’s mom though. She was very angry and bitter most of the time, and for a big part I do understand were she’s coming from. But, she was just a bit too extreme at times for my liking.
One other tiny point of critique: the beginning felt a bit rushed. I would liked to have read a bit more about Emma’s background and what her life at home was like. Now it just starts at the carnival, and we don’t really get to know her very well before her life changes drastically. Same goes for the closure of the story, it was a little bit too open for me. But it wasn’t bad so I’m not really complaining.

I’m a big fan of the overall ending. The last 20% really were a real page turner for me! It had more tension than the rest of the book.
I hope this writer has some other things for us coming our way soon, because I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for more from her!


Tell me what you think!