REVIEW: The Road to Enchantment by Kaya McLaren
Coming of age reflection mixes with picking up the pieces after loss in THE ROAD TO ENCHANTMENT by Kaya McLaren, one woman’s growth through a broken childhood to become a healed, well-balanced adult. I loved the isolated setting near an Apache reservation, full of self-reliance ingenuity, which encourages Native American neighbors into action when Willow needs it.
Willow’s childhood was never normal which reflects her mother’s personality and alcohol addiction. Mom sets a mattress on fire and roasts “marshmallow peeps” over it when she finds out her husband cheated. Then she moves them to an off-the-grid farm on the edge of an Apache reservation in New Mexico. Willow’s only way out is music when she learns to play the cello and becomes a studio artist in Los Angeles.
Willow’s adult world seems perfect. She lives with fellow recording artist, Ian, and they have a good life playing music for a living. But Ian suddenly feels the call to become a starving rock star, moves into his buddy’s closet to save money and plays in a band. Willow is left wondering who will pay Ian’s half of the rent. Then her mother dies, leaving Willow the ranch in New Mexico along with her debts to decipher. Willow packs her bags and moves home. To top all that off, she discovers she’s pregnant with Ian’s child.
Who will save the day? Her not-so-stereotypical gay best friend Darrel, who is Apache, wants to help. His parents are very supportive and treat her as their daughter. Can Willow find her way back to music and happiness when everything she knows is gone?
The quirky characters in this novel kept me entertained with their antics and solutions to Willow’s dilemmas. Darrel’s parents become support for Willow, encouraging her to be herself and to be brave. Darrel is a good best friend who has Willow’s best interests in mind, even though he struggles with his own love life. I absolutely loved the animals. They added stress, emotion and interest to Willow’s already complicated situation.
By halfway through the novel, I had cried twice for Willow’s situation. My emotion surprised me but her dilemma moved me. I wasn’t sure Willow would choose the right path, but when she does, everything falls into place as it should, creating a pathway she begins to accept.
There were a couple things that would have made the novel more enjoyable. First, Willow’s love interest is introduced, toyed with for a bit, but then he’s glossed over. I think more time should have been spent nurturing that relationship. I was satisfied with the end of the book, but because it had deep emotional impact early on, the oomph was taken out of the final chapters without more in-depth focus on her future.
It’s a lovely story so I wasn’t disappointed. I just didn’t feel the power behind the resolution as much as I had felt the emotion of the middle. That made it feel like the book climaxed too early and then lingered toward the end. It needs another emotive hook that is more prevailing than the middle to give it that wow factor I expected because the book was so great overall.
My enjoyment was consistent with the quality of the writing and the characters I had come to love. I was encouraged by Willow’s personal growth and found that very satisfying. A good coming of age reflection mixed with women’s fiction, THE ROAD TO ENCHANTMENT is perfect for lovers of off-the-grid ingenuity mixed with the magic of the music business. The two worlds collide, revealing the beauty of a simple life.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Digital advanced reader copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.
The Road to Enchantment by Kaya McLaren
Category: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (January 31, 2017)
Rated 4 out of 5
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