ARC Review: Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus

This was one book where I actually fully read and was attracted by the book jacket summary of the story. Now, whether or not it rose to the hyped summary, well…different story I suppose.


by Margi Preus
University of Minnesota Press, March 2015
YA mystery
Rated: cookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies
provided by NetGalley

enchantmentA disturbing call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette sends seventeen-year-old Francie far from her new home in New York into a tangle of mysteries. Ditching an audition in a Manhattan theater, Francie travels to a remote lake in the northwoods where her aunts’ neighbors are “dropping like flies” from strange accidents. But are they accidents?

On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hot dish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure that is said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built.

To a somewhat reluctant northwoods Nancy Drew, the intrigue proves irresistible, especially when it draws her closer to the mysteries at the heart of her own life: What happened to her father? Who and where is her mother? Who is she, and where does her heart lie—in the bustle of New York City or the deep woods of Minnesota?

Jumbly Thoughts

The cover is nice. That is, assuming that the story itself is a children’s mystery. Which is perhaps one of the bigger problems of the book: that it was not quite sure whether it wanted to be a children’s book or a YA book. At first I thought maybe I was just being overly-critical of the content, but after reading a few other reviews, I would definitely have to agree that Francie’s predicaments are hardly things a child-reader could be drawn to–much less empathize with. And yet, the language was very childlike, and not in the sense of amusement, either.

Cue attempted witty detective-related remark here. In the story, Francie is lured into her aunts’ small town, where a couple of strange “deaths” occur, and through some randomly forced plot points, has to undergo an investigation into the mysterious happenings of the area. The “humor” in this is the fact that Francie doesn’t have any investigative credential whatsoever, even though the entire town seems to think she’s a detective. Admittedly, it was kind of amusing the first few times Francie’s aunts insisted that Francie has detective experience (after playing one in a children’s television program), but no amount of suspension of disbelief was going to make me accept the fact that the entire town believed this to be true. The ENTIRE. DAMN. TOWN. First of all, it was a general belief that Francie’s aunts are a few screws loose in the noggin’, yet how is it that everyone believes Astrid and Jeannette when they say Francie is a detective in New York? I know technology was scarce in the town itself, but come on. Even the sheriff looked Francie up on the interwebs and came out with nothing (though that didn’t seem to bother him too much, and he still continued to believe she was a detective). By the latter half of the story, I practically just chalked this small town ignorance up to a great deal of incompetence for most of the characters, especially the adults.

Character descriptions. Besides Francie, whose description kind of matches the one in the cover, it was almost impossible to visualize any of the characters in the book. The most Preus got to was a description of Nels, which, let’s be honest, didn’t give me anything, either. I really do take issue with adjectives that include descriptions of Greco-Roman gods in the mix. I really, really do. Admittedly, Nels was actually one of the more tolerable characters in the book, and it definitely had nothing to do with how gorgeous he looked to the main character.

The scenery is pretty. I will hand it to Preus’ description of the location. It was definitely something vivid enough to warrant visiting in my head, and was certainly relevant considering the story turns toward a mystery about real estate.

For everything else well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything else. And I could probably rant all day about more things I didn’t like in Enchantment Lake, but I’ll leave it as is.

2 out of 5 cookies! As I said, the cover was nice at least?

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