A Fragile Enchantment / Allison Saft / Book Review


Niamh Ó Conchobhair will do anything to help keep a roof over her family's head. She owes everything to her mother and her grandmother, after all. And with her renown as a seamstress growing, opportunities are finally coming her way.

When Niamh gets invited to be the court seamstress for the upcoming royal wedding, she can't exactly say no. Her own people might have long suffered under the thumb of Avaland's rule, but an opportunity's an opportunity. She'll never get a better one. And arriving in city, at the palace itself--well, it all feels a little like a fairy tale to Naimh.

Until she meets the prince. The younger son of Avaland is irritable, rude, and seems to downright hate Niamh. If she can't please him, she might be out of a job after all--and out of a way back to her Macklish home as well. Add to that some rumblings of Macklish servants walking out and mistreatment all throughout the capital, and resentment is brewing--and nothing is as stable, as sure, as fairytale as Niamh could have hoped.



This book is as cozy as the cover might promise. It's got a soft Regency-style worldbuilding to it, full of ballrooms and ballgowns and magic. Despite being set in a city, it feels cottagecore at its heart, brimming with blossoms and tangling vines. I do wish it had gone deeper, seeing as the worldbuilding is inspired by the contentious history of England and Ireland, but I guess it doesn't need to go deeper. It promises soft and sweet, after all, and it achieves that just as it stands.


Gossip Monger This book harkens to a long tradition (both in literature and in reality) of carefully scrutinizing every action and reaction of the upper classes in print media. If you like Gossip Girl or Bridgerton's Lady Whistledown, you'll appreciate the snarky and sharp gossip rags of this fantasy realm as well.

Cottagecore Bisexuals I'm not sure if any particular subgenre lends itself so well to bisexual protagonists as cottagecore. I don't know why that is, but I'm not complaining. This book is full of plant magic and stitchery, cottage life turned ballroom, country retreats and the desire to return to greener pastures. Oh, and stolen kisses in the rain. The cottagecore aesthetic is undeniable, and the soft and fluid sexuality of the cast of characters fits it so perfectly, too.

Compassion I don't know if I've ever read a book for teens that treats alcoholism so compassionately. I like that so, so much. There's no playing it for laughs. There's no hard and harsh moralizing. It's just a recognition, a resolution, and a lot of hope. And that's important. We need more of this.


This is a book brimming with big implications. It is undergirded with colonialism. It is upheld by classism and maligned ethnic identities. The core relationship in this book, by necessity, is caught up in a major power imbalance. It's got the start to those big conversations... but it doesn't really address any of them. And with all that setup, I wish it would have veered from its soft and cozy tune just a bit to touch on the darker side of all of this. No Wrestling

I'm not supposed to interrogate this book too much. Suspension of disbelief and all that--I get it. But Niamh is just so immediately involved with the royalty on a personal level, and I didn't buy it. It's escapism. I understand that. But it felt too far-fetched to me that she would fall into their confidences, that she would take rude treatment so personally when she was just a member of the staff, that she would find herself flooded with invitations to high society events (despite being, you know, a member of the staff). It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It's fun, for sure. But the realism just wasn't in it. Comfort Level

This book sets up so many ideas, but it quickly gets consumed by a romance plot. And that's fine. The cover kind of indicates as much, so it isn't unexpected. But at the same time, I didn't like it. It just doesn't feel right to have a girl so concerned with providing for her family that she would move to an enemy capital just forget about her loved ones pretty much entirely when she finds a (potential) lover. But I guess I've seen it happen in real life (more or less), so it can happen. I just thought Niamh would be, I don't know, better than that. Forgotten Motivation



Fans of Jessica Day George's Dragon Slippers will adore this new small-town dressmaker in the big city. Those who liked Julia Quinn's The Duke and I will like this new gossip-filled summer of ballrooms and ballgowns.


Publisher: Wednesday Books
Date: January 2, 2024
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. I am not a big fan of historical (with or without fantasy elements), but I am glad you found the weighty issue of alcoholism dealt with well

  2. This sounds like it would be a good one. I still haven't read a cozy.

  3. I haven't picked up an historical in quite a while. You have me curious about this one, especially
    with the fantasy elements.

  4. Well this is not one of my preferred genres I appreciate your thorough review!

  5. I saw this one somewhere else...and now I can not remember! It feels like it was somewhere for me to get it, huh, maybe the library had out an coming soon or something

  6. So not a perfect book, but still pretty good. I do really love that cover.

  7. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for sharing.

  8. OK you convinced me!!! I love cozy books!

  9. Great review ER! I love the cover and I'm glad to hear the story is as cozy as it looks!

  10. I've never heard of cottagecore, I'll have to look that up! I do love historical romances, but some reason I'm not overly motivated to pick this one up. Glad to see you enjoyed it overall.


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