Review: The Enchanted Village by Jon Fabris

I received a review copy of this book via Reedsy Discovery. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Pages: 296


A dark but humorous fantasy novel brimming with heroes, knights, witches, elves, dwarfs, goblins, trolls, giants, ogres, dragons, and unicorns.

The book takes inspiration from the darker tales of the Brothers Grimm with a dash of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most of the adventure takes place in the secluded village of Bunwych, a town drenched in magic due to its proximity to the fairy land of Elfhame. The main protagonist is a woman; strong but conflicted, trying her best to raise her children alone. The chief antagonist is the Fairy Queen, who hates the humans and attempts to meddle with their affairs. A mysterious knight from the distant, more civilized part of the kingdom arrives and attempts to purge the haunted ruined castle of its ghosts. Comic relief is provided by the bumbling Dwarf King who, after killing his fiance for mentioning fairies and flowers, undertakes to woo the most beautiful girl in Bunwych.

The characters move through a series of adventures building to the climax on midsummer’s night. Inside the book are 22 charming full color illustrations. (In the paperback edition the illustrations are in black and white.)

My Thoughts…

In the secluded village of Bunwych, it is not unusual to hear talk of magic and curses. It is so close to the fairy land of Elfhame that fairies, witches, trolls, and dwarfs frequently interact with the humans who live there, meddling in their affairs more often than would be advisable. And when a mysterious knight arrives on the king’s behalf to clear an old abandoned castle of its ghosts just before midsummer’s night, the villagers’ adventures can only increase.

The Enchanted Village starts from an interesting premise, employing all the classic elements of fairytales to craft a new story. However, it doesn’t really use these elements in a particularly innovative way, essentially redeploying all the old tropes in largely the same way, with only a few minor improvements in certain characters’ storylines. It is a very easy read, flowing smoothly for the most part, but also leaving the feeling that this was a missed chance to do something more with the author’s very original initial idea.

The cast of characters is varied, featuring everyone you’d want in a fairytale. It was a pleasure to see the different characters have their chance at adventure, although at times it felt as though there were too many characters, with not all of them having a chance to shine. Maybe as a result of trying to manage such a big cast, most of the characters remained very flat, hardly more than their original fairytale type would suggest. The comic relief in the form of the dwarf king was definitely a success, but most other characters were far less memorable and their dialogue often felt stilted.

My reading experience was also hampered by the very significant number of errors in my copy. This will hopefully be fixed in the final version, but the sheer volume of spelling, grammar, and continuity errors (such as characters’ names changing spelling halfway through, details changing from one chapter to the next, and so on) greatly limited my enjoyment of the book, which would benefit from another round of editing/proofreading. The illustrations were a nice idea but didn’t really add much to the book as they weren’t of particularly high quality.

Overall, The Enchanted Village is a book with strong potential that was sadly not fully realised. It can be an enjoyable read for those looking for a fairytale fantasy novel redeploying elements of the tales of old in a new setting.

Rating: 2/5

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery.


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