An orphan girl in the miserable care of unloving relatives; a mysterious and beautiful witch; a charming prince; a trusty animal companion; a common thief who might not be so common; a sparkling ball. These are the ingredients to a fairy tale novel, and The Amaranth Enchantment has them all.
Lucinda Chapdelaine was the daughter of two friends to the king of Laurenz. She attended parties, smiled at the king, and thought the prince was a bit of bore. But that all changed when she was five and her parents' carriage had an accident, leaving her an orphan. She went to live with her aunt and uncle in a goldsmith shop.
Ten years later, Lucinda is being abused in the shop by her hateful aunt when a young woman enters with a very strange, and obviously valuable, stone. And as if that wasn't enough, almost as soon as she leaves, Prince Gregor enters! Lucinda's heart is all aflutter.
But her budding crush on the crown prince is forgotten when they discover that the woman is in fact the Amaranth Witch, who, as everyone knows, cursed the queen all those years ago leaving her childless. Lucinda is ordered to return the stone to the witch and tell her that they couldn't possibly work for her, but Lucinda knows that her uncle's debts are piling up, and they are in desperate need of the witch's money, so she holds onto the stone in the hope that she'll convince her uncle to do the job anyway.
But then Lucinda runs into Peter, a boy of the street, and gives him shelter in her room for one night. Once she finally gets him to leave, she continues her miserable life for a few hours before discovering that her uncle is dead. Her aunt kicks her out onto the street. With nowhere else to go, she find the witch's house to return the stone and ask for employment, only to discover that the stone has been stolen. Darn that Peter.
Now Lucinda must get the stone back for the witch, AKA Beryl, before all is lost, but that is far easier said than done.
Loosely based on Cinderella (and I mean loosely. It's familiar enough to make you wonder what the story reminds you of all the way through, but you can never quite place it), The Amaranth Enchantment is a fairy tale novel to a T. Except for some science fiction elements, but we won't worry about those.
"Amaranth" is a fine, charming little story if you aren't expecting too much, or if you just want a bit of light reading, but if you're looking for a fairy tale made of awesome you won't find it here (try some Shannon Hale, Mira, Mirror, Jessica Day George, or David Lee Stone). It's a straightforward plot with few surprises and fairly basic characters. The only truly unique aspect in "Amaranth" is that Lucinda's "Fairy Godmother" is pretty much an alien. Honestly, it sounds awesomer than it is.
So just don't enter into "Amaranth" with high expectations, and you'll have an enjoyable few hours with Lucinda, Prince Gregor, Peter, Beryl, and Dog (who is easily the awesomest character in the book).