‘A Fragile Enchantment’ Book Review – A fragile romance better off as a political fantasy

a fragile enchantment allison saft

A fragile romance better off as a political fantasy

There have been tons of anticipated fantasy romances finally being released at the beginning of the year and A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft is one of them. Inspired by the Ireland-England conflict, A Fragile Enchantment is set in a magical world full of unrest, a Bridgerton-esque gossip column called Lovelace, political marriages and unruly princes with secrets.

Well, this novel is a great start for 2024 if you are looking for a whimsical romance, angst that is not too painful, some enemies-to-lovers bickering and a happy ending. In a world where magic is slowly dying out, Niamh Ó Conchobhair, a Machlish tailor has the gift of sewing emotions into her designs. When she is hired as the royal tailor for the Second Prince of Avaland, Christopher’s wedding, she is truly conflicted.

While it is her ticket to a good life, it has not even been a quarter of a century since Machland won its freedom from Avaland, that too with a steep price. To make matters worse, she cannot help but notice the tension between her and the Prince. And she isn’t the only one. Coupled with the star-crossed romance, we have some good old civil uprising that could threaten to take down the royal family from within.

Now, it is not to say that A Fragile Enchantment is not an entertaining read. But thanks to cynicism creeping into our lives, one cannot help but find the romance a bit too frivolous and messy that it borders on laughable. You are either going to love or hate this book for it and you can guess the direction we are going in.  

From the rainstorm scene where Niamh tries to stop Kit from spiralling, the story feels rushed and cliched. From that moment onwards, the novel gets predictable. It is preachy and melancholic for the sake of it. Gone are the pages where it was at least light-hearted and cheerful. If we wanted a maudlin love story we wouldn’t have picked this book disguised as a rom-com. 

Sure, A Fragile Enchantment has a strong premise but it is executed too poorly. The dialogues are taken from every trope imaginable with adjectives like heat pooled intensely, warmly, strongly, you get the gist. It is corny but one can let it go considering there is an oversaturation of books to the point that nothing can ever truly be new.

But it is all about selling us the story to the point we are immersed in it, living the story with the characters. That is not the case for this one. If one is to describe this romance, it feels like a magical Bridgerton with a political angle that delves into a hasty and convenient conclusion with everything else regaled to the background for the sake of a happy ending. 

The secondary characters are more interesting than the lead couple. In fact, it would have been more exciting if Niamh had been paired up with Kit’s older brother, Jack or even his fiancee, Rosa. 

There, honestly, is no other way to describe the romance than mundane and rushed (yeah we know we are repeating ourselves but there really is no other way to describe it). Niamh is attracted to Kit even though he’s rude to her. He’s rude to everyone but she chips away his defences because…she can. Because there is no substance to the romance, it feels like it drags on from the moment the characters interact. 

The thing is, the author doesn’t know what to do with the lead characters. She herself hasn’t figured them out so how do we get a picture of fully fleshed-out characters? It feels as if Kit’s actions sometimes are out of character to fit certain tropes. Meanwhile, Niamh’s motives don’t make sense. We get pages and pages of her ramblings as to why she should do something but the reasons do not even slightly correlate with her actions.

It picks up a bit in the final act when the focus goes from romance to suspense with the mystery of who is Lovelace. That seems to be the only interesting part of the book. Who knows, maybe if the main plot had been on the Machlish revolt and its allies with a subplot of the characters’ romance, A Fragile Enchantment would have turned out better.

Read More: A Fragile Enchantment Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 4/10

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