Disenchanted (Disenchanted #1) - Brianna Sugalski
Growing up in Wales, it’s difficult not to feel that there is magic in your blood. Despite harkening from a country that boasts waterfalls, mountains, beaches, Arthurian legend, and more castles per square mile than anywhere else in Europe, perhaps the most magical thing we all share is our Celtic heritage. This heritage provided us with our ancient language, our customs, our legends and our folklore.
When I was a child growing up on the ancient Isle of Anglesey (Ynys M?n), fairy folklore was commonplace. I grew up collecting ornaments of fairies gifted to me by my parents and my grandmother, and would often wake up to notes and gifts left for me by the fairies. My personal fairy ended up being called ‘Mum’, however the magic is not lost on me, decades later, that this element of our heritage provided a little healthy dose of magic. Likewise, a trip to the picturesque village of Betws-Y-Coed, nestled in the Snowdonia mountain range, one could find the Fairy Glen, a quiet gorge on the River Conwy and home to rare plants, wildlife, and mythical sprites. We also have an island dedicated to the patron saint of Welsh lovers, Saint Dwynwen; the ruins of her church marked by a Celtic cross, forever synonymous with her sacrifice for the protection of all future lovers. Sounds romantic, right? Some of our culture is, but a lot of it is marked by bloodshed, sacrifice, Anglicization, and deep division. These are not unfortunate circumstances isolated to the Welsh. Our Celtic neighbors in Brittany, Cornwall, Scotland, and Ireland all have similar stories of impassioned resilience. This resilience is as Celtic a trait as red hair.
This heritage, although sometimes difficult to explain to outsiders, has been perfectly captured in Brianna’s debut novel, Disenchanted. Hers tells the story of Lilac Trécesson, a Norman-Breton princess with a supernatural ability that grants her some enemies. On her journey through the enchanted forest of Brocéliande to rid herself of this ability, Brianna demonstrates the Celtic resilience of this strong-willed woman in her quest to rid herself of darkness. No easy feat when Celtic magic naturally courses through your veins! Brianna’s novel is a masterpiece of historical adventure, fantastical revelry, and a true battle of wits as Lilac and Garin embark on their quest to find the mysterious witch of the enchanted forest.
I remember Brianna telling me about her ideas and passion for this project and I was brought to tears. Not just because she gave me the honor of writing the foreword for this incredible book, but because it is rare to see someone give so much of themselves to bring justice to a culture that is often forgotten or misrepresented. Brianna’s passion for this corner of northwest Europe began when she discovered her own Welsh heritage a few years ago. We had been friends for a number of years before the idea for this novel came to fruition. During this time, I’d watched Brianna’s passion for writing transcend to a form of therapy after a tragedy struck her life unexpectedly. The raw emotions she dealt with during this time are masterfully displayed in her immaculate prose. The gift she gives us with this novel is the experience of human emotion repurposed into something we can all relate to – that little bit of darkness that we seek to destroy, but in the meantime we find that it’s the balance of light and dark that makes us who we truly are.
Princess Lilac represents you and me and every other person that pursues the light and has to go through their own enchanted forests to find themselves. We might not always have a Garin with us on our quest, but we have ourselves. And that’s enough.
- Aimee Nicole Jones
The Beginning of the End
Forêt de Brocéliande, 1532
Laurent Beaulieu knew the trees here were accustomed to keeping secrets. He was well aware that even if the rendezvous did not go unnoticed, he had little to fret about. Had a human or creature seen, he’d easily finish them off; lately he preferred to keep violence at a minimum, but he’d do anything necessary to keep others from knowing he had agreed to a conference on human terms. Fortunately, even the most dauntless mortals typically avoided the woods after dusk.
Still, he couldn’t quite shake the apprehension presaging him.
The fog of early twilight had rolled in, nestling among the dense foliage. Laurent pivoted, easily spotting the thin figure slinking toward him. He’d heard and smelled her first—the confidence of a