The Enchanted — The Gateway Chronicles, Book 4
By K.B. Hoyle
Darcy Pennington’s course was set long before she ever stepped foot in Alitheia, and when she returns for her fourth visit to the magical realm, she finds even more outside her control than ever before. Darcy is finally willing to follow her prophesied path, but a painful rejection almost pushes her over the edge, and when she demands answers from Rubidius, he provides her only with more secrets she must keep from the others. In the meantime, Darcy and her friends set out to confront one of Tselloch’s gateways, fulfilling—so they think—the great Prophecy of the Six. But when faced with practicing their magic against Tselloch’s evil power, nothing turns out as expected. With her oracle and her looming transformation into a tsellodrin always hanging over her, Darcy wonders, in the end, if there is any hope at all for her and Tellius, or for Alitheia.
The Enchanted seems to me a magical book, even more so than its predecessors. Despite the fact it explores the darkest parts of Alitheia we've seen to date and follows the deaths and personal tragedies of several beloved characters, the novel has a fairy tale-esque feeling as romance blooms full-fledged in this latest re-release by K.B. Hoyle. It is said that The Enchanted is a book of relationships, and I would have to agree. The narrative rises and falls on Darcy's relationships with her mentor (Rubidius), her direct antagonist (Colin Mackaby) and her king (Tellius).
Rubidius is cantankerous, bossy, perhaps a little egotistical, yet that all goes hand in hand with being a vast resource of knowledge, wisdom, and power. Darcy, who's had trouble with being honest and trusting others in the past, learns to finally put full faith in Rubidius in The Enchanted and he, in turn, trusts her with guarded knowledge that is pivotal to the prophecy and her role in it. Vulnerability is introduced in the midst of this newfound, mutual respect as well, leading to what may be my favorite interaction with Rubidius in the entire series as he and Darcy finally discuss her long-hidden Oracle.
And then comes Tellius—courageous, proud, handsome, refined, fully grown and preparing to take his crown. He is also painfully aware of his uncertain and seemingly complacent role in the prophecy and downfall of Tscelloch. His arc in this story is both beautiful and tragic, the man in love at war with the boy who's lost so much, and the pages don't turn fast enough to satisfy. It certainly doesn't hurt that Hoyle added two toe-curling, heart-wrenching scenes to his and Darcy's chaotic affair either. Darcy's relationship with Tellius has always been rocky, but it solidifies at last in The Enchanted despite all the ups and downs, despite her murky oracle, despite his misgivings—though whether their relationship ends happily ever after remains to be seen by the end of the novel.
Darcy's relationship to Colin, too, takes a turning point as she shows him mercy time and again only for him to return to Tselloch. Colin Mackaby is an intriguing, dark, somewhat tragic character along the lines of Credence in Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Vulnerable and lonely, he first looked to Tselloch as a twisted form of salvation and now is so immersed in this, immersed in the endless greed of power, that it is doubtful he'll ever be able to find his way back to the light. Still, Darcy pursues him.
With the light of love comes the darkness of shadow, and as such, this is the first book in which mortality is majorly confronted. After suffering several deeply painful losses, Darcy and Tellius both must come to terms with their fragile mortality, that of their friends', and of one another. While Tellius withdraws in a counter to his usual explosive reactions, Darcy faces her own mortality without hesitation. We, the readers, know of her oracle, "Twice wed, twice dead, twice stained red," yet this is the time for it to come to light and be brought into action. Darcy, who once was ready to give in to the darkest of enemies in the face of her impending death, now stands tall and acknowledges it with the steadfast purpose of one who knows their life (and death) may impact the world in brilliant ways. It's a sharp contrast to the thirteen year old girl we first met, and while age certainly has something to do with it, her experiences, relationships, and purpose have shaped her into a queen at heart, ready to do anything for her love of her king and her country.
But I get ahead of myself. There are other notable elements of The Enchanted—Sam shines in her role as The Companion tempered with the same wisdom and age as Darcy, Cadmus is charming and sweet in the way handsome and gently-raised young men often are, our knowledge of magic and the Orodreos landscape deepens and the scenery shifts drastically throughout the book as they journey on, and crucial plot elements are explored in rapid succession. Hoyle's edits serve one purpose and one purpose only: to make what I thought was a perfect book somehow even better, and I am thrilled to read on.
5 out of 5 Magpies (more if I could)