Fairy Tale Friday: The Princess Curse

The Princess Curse is written by Merrie Haskell. It was published in 2011 by Harper.

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling—and downright silly—curse. Ridiculous though the curse may be, whoever breaks it will win a handsome reward. Sharp-witted Reveka, an herbalist’s apprentice, has little use for princesses, with their snooty attitudes and impractical clothing. She does, however, have use for the reward money, which could buy her a position as a master herbalist. But curses don’t like to be broken, and Reveka’s efforts lead her to deeper mysteries. As she struggles to understand the curse, she meets a shadowy stranger (as charming as he is unsettling) and discovers a blighted land in desperate need of healing .Soon the irreverent apprentice is faced with a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

I love how the setting of The Princess Curse is a combination of mythic and historical, with the story taking place in Romania (I think?) with mentions of Hungary, Transylvania, and other Eastern European countries (or provinces). There’s also a strong, latent Greek myth presence beneath all the Romanian folktales.

I also love how this story combined the “12 Dancing Princesses” and “Beauty and the Beast” in a way that made so much sense and worked really well. I thought the “12 Dancing Princesses” part was really unique, not only because Reveka is a girl but also because the setting and everything else was done so well that it really made it stand out from other iterations of the same fairy tale. As for the “Beauty and the Beast” part, well, I love “Beauty and the Beast.”

I loved Reveka’s snark and the sarcastic and dry humor scattered throughout the book; in fact, on the very top of the second page of the book is this absolutely wonderful sarcastic rejoinder that immediately made me realize that I was going to love this book. And I did, for the most part.

My one quibble with the book that kept me from absolutely loving it was that it felt incomplete, a little, at the end. There were still a few loose ends and I was disappointed that after introducing “Beauty and the Beast,” Haskell wasn’t going to actually finish telling that story. I would have loved a “5 years later” epilogue, but even better would be a sequel where Reveka finds a cure for the Underworld.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Middle Grade

“Mistress Adina,” I said, “have you considered yew?”

“Yew!” She rocked back in her chair, sucking one tooth thoughtfully. “What for? It’s poison.”

“It’s been…it’s been known to raise the dead.”

She laughed. “I never heard that!”

I flushed. “I read it! In a book!” I had, though it was about a year before, in Moldavia.

And she laughed again. “Who taught you herb lore, Reveka?”

Overall Review:

The Princess Curse has a wonderful mythical-crossed-with-the-historical setting that I have come to love from Haskell (Handbook for Dragons Slayers has a similar setting), and I absolutely loved Reveka’s sarcasm. The combination of the 12 Dancing Princesses and Beauty and the Beast was highly original and really well done, but I wish that the end of the book didn’t feel quite so unfinished.

You can buy this here: The Princess Curse

Mila 2.0: Unrealistic Premise Undermines Everything

Mila 2.0 is written by Debra Driza. It was published in 2013 by Katherine Tegen.

Mila was living with her mother in a small Minnesota town when she discovered she was also living a lie. She was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was never supposed to remember the past—that she was built in a computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do. Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much, and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. Evading her enemies won’t help Mila escape the cruel reality of what she is and cope with everything she has had to leave behind. However, what she’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and that just might save her life.

I had two main problems with Mila 2.0. The first is that Driza’s writing style, at least at the beginning of the novel, is a style I dislike. It’s overly descriptive; not in a “purple prose” type of way, but in a just “this is useless information” way. Example: Driza has Hunter pick up a “red North Face backpack,” when really all we need to know is that it’s a red backpack. Brand names don’t do nearly as much to describe as people think they do. You don’t need to give readers specific brands unless you’re trying to make some sort of point. Doing it just to establish description is just overkill. Luckily, Driza backs away from this as she gets further into the book.

The second problem I had is the entire premise of the book. I just don’t buy it. I don’t buy Mila and I don’t buy her situation (you don’t go into supposed hiding from the government and then continue to use the same name for the thing you’re hiding. Why Nicole called her Mila and everyone knew her as Mila while they were in hiding, when the project, and thus her name, is Mila, thus making it even easier for her to be found, is beyond me). And I certainly don’t buy whatever it is that Driza is trying to imply about what makes people human. I’m sorry, but what makes someone human is not the fact that they feel emotion. Animals feel emotion, or at least some limited range of it. But they’re not human. Then Mila states further in the book something about pain, “the one thing that had made her more human.” What about those who can’t feel pain? Are they somehow less human because of it? In addition, animals feel pain; it doesn’t make them human and it doesn’t make them “more” human, whatever that means.

Let’s face it, emotion is not what makes us human, and so Mila 2.0’s entire premise crumbles because of it. It simply doesn’t make sense.

Also, love triangles are overdone and I am tired of them. Driza should have kept Hunter on the bus she put him on.

Rating: 2/5

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Warnings: Some really iffy implications about what constitutes a human, swearing, violence.

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

All three of us stared at my arm. And stared. And stared. It was like none of us could believe what we were seeing.

My arm wasn’t bleeding at all. There was a huge, gaping tear in my skin, but no blood. No blood. No blood because instead of blood, a thin film of red had ruptured, allowing some disgusting milky-white liquid to leach form the wound and trickle down my elbow.

And it got worse. Inside the cut, inside me, was this transparent tube with a minuscule jagged fissure shaped like a row of clamped teeth. And inside that? Something that looked like wires. Tiny silver wires, twisted like the double helixes we studied in biology.

Overall Review:

Mila 2.0’s premise is really iffy, and as a result I could not immerse myself in the book. I know science fiction, more often called speculative fiction nowadays, is supposed to be just that, speculative, but I simply cannot get behind the whole “what makes us human is our ability to feel emotions” idea. It seems too problematic, and not at all reflective of actual humanity. Being human is composed of more than just having emotions.

You can buy this here: MILA 2.0

Jinx’s Magic: Setting The Bar High For MG Fantasy

Jinx’s Magic is written by Sage Blackwood. It was published in 2014 by Katherine Tegen. It is the sequel to Jinx.

Jinx knows he can do magic. But he doesn’t know why he’s being stalked by a werewolf with a notebook, why the trees are starting to take back the only safe paths through the Urwald, or why the elves think Jinx and the evil Bonemaster are somehow connected. Jinx’s perilous search for answers takes him to the desert land of Samara, where, according to the wizard Simon, he just might find the ancient magic he needs to defeat the Bonemaster and unite the Urwald. But Jinx finds himself in a centuries-old conspiracy that places the Urwald in even greater danger.

I had a big fat grin on my face the entire time I was reading this book. It has such charm to it and Jinx is so endearing that I never wanted the book to end. It’s also funny, and I love the magic system, especially KnIP. Blackwood writes compellingly and immediately sucked me into the world.

While the first quarter of the book was incredibly frustrating due to Revin, I was still engaged with it from the very beginning (hence the frustration). I found myself getting anxious for Jinx’s sake and hoping that the Urwald unites to fend off the inevitable danger from four sides: Keyland, Bragwood, Samara, and the Bonemaster. I loved the growth Jinx showed throughout the book, actually listening to those around him instead of either thinking he knew better or getting frustrated, and the confrontation Blackwood is building up promises to be a good one, both in terms of plot engagement and character development.

Also, Jinx versus the preceptors in the Urwald was so awesome, even though you know that rift and the preceptors themselves will come back to haunt him.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: The Bonemaster remains creepy.

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

“You’re from Angara?”

Apparently that was the sort of news that got around fast about a person. “Yes.”

“Right in Agnopolis, or out in the country?”

“Um, yeah. Agnopolis.”

“Cool,” said Satya. “I spent six months in Agnopolis brushing up on my Herwa. Go Grapemen, eh?” She stuck her fist out.

Gack! Jinx tried hard to hide his alarm. He stuck his fist out too and said, “Yes. Go. Exactly.”

Overall Review:

Jinx’s Magic sucked me in right from the beginning and made me eager for the next book. It’s deliciously funny and light-hearted, yet still has its serious and tense moments, dealt with superbly by Blackwood. This book is mostly set-up for the next one, but there’s still enough conflict and growth to make the characters endearing and memorable. I’ll repeat what I said about Jinx: this book gave me all the feels.

You can buy this here: Jinx’s Magic

Fairy Tale Friday: The Emperor, His Bride And The Dragon Robe

Disclaimer: The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe by Lisa Sankar-Zhu was supplied to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe” is a wonderful fairy tale set in ancient China. It tells the story of a brave young emperor and two beautiful young women, who are suddenly thrust the incredible, once-in-a-life-time opportunity of marrying the emperor and becoming the next empress of China. Their journeys take them from their humble homes to the grand palace where their lives are forever changed for the better, and, at times, even for the worse as the competition to win the emperor’s heart intensifies. The young women meet their unexpected challenges in very different ways. But their struggle is the depiction of the fight between good and evil.

The best part about this little book is the gorgeous illustrations. The fairy tale itself was good and has a nice little lesson about how outward appearance does not necessarily reflect inward character, as well as one on how even if one is “ugly,” good actions will make one “beautiful,” which I thought a very good message to have.

But the illustrations just are what make this book. There’s one on every page and they are spread top-to-bottom and are visually stunning. The only negative is that this book is only available as an e-book, which means that you have to admire the pictures from a screen rather than hold the book in your hands and take it in that way (note: There may indeed be a print copy; but it apparently had a limited release and so the chances of getting one are slim).

The Emperor, His Bride, and the Dragon Robe is a good fairytale, made even better by the illustrations. I love good-quality illustrations with my children’s books/fairy tales, and these are amazing ones to have.

My rating: 4/5

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Children’s

You can buy this here: The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe

The Unwanteds: Solid, But Nothing Remarkable

The Unwanteds is written by Lisa McMann. It was published in 2011 by Aladdin. It is the first book in the Unwanteds series. 

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their graves. On the day of the Purge, identical twins Alex and Aaron Stowe await their fate. While Aaron is hopeful of becoming a Wanted, Alex knows his chances are slim. He’s been caught drawing with a stick in the dirt—and in the stark gray land of Quill, being creative is a death sentence. But when Alex and the other Unwanteds face the Eliminators, they discover an eccentric magician named Mr. Today and his hidden world that exists to save the condemned children. Artimé is a colorful place of talking statues, uncommon creatures, and artistic magic, where creativity is considered a gift…and a weapon.

Thoughts:

The Unwanteds is basically a cross between The Giver, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter. It has a fairly unique (and really cool) magic, and I especially loved the paper dragons and the soliloquy spells. Although the world didn’t make much sense to me (it wasn’t incredibly developed), I have always liked the “magic school” idea and I thought McMann handled it well, even if she didn’t break any new ground.

 While I thought the characters were a trifle flat, I did enjoy the conflict between Alex and Aaron. Most of the other (young) characters, with the exception of Samheed and Lani, were pretty forgettable, though. Mr. Today was the usual eccentric headmaster, and for most of the book I kept trying to figure out if his name was supposed to be meaningful or not.

I also thought the whole book covered a lot of ground for being the first in a series, and I wonder what the rest of the books have in store since the main conflict between Quill and Artimé is already over.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade.

“Work hard on your art first. Once you get really good at it, your instructor will recommend moving you up to Magical Warrior Training.”

“But what is that, exactly? Mr. Today asked us all if we would do it.”

“It’s a class where you learn to defend yourself and to fight, using magical weapons of art. Like—”

“Maybe Quill won’t want to fight us,” Meghan said.

Sean laughed, although not unkindly. “Oh, yes. I’m sure they will. They’ve been gearing up for a fight for fifty years! Why do you think they put their so-called best people in the Quillitary?”

Overall Review:

There were some aspects of The Unwanteds that I loved, such as the creative aspect of the magic. Although McMann doesn’t do much to go above and beyond the usual, there is enough originality that none of the tropes feel overused. I did think some of the characters were a little flat, and I would have liked some more development overall, but a solid showing nonetheless.

You can buy this here: The Unwanteds

Pulse: I Want Back The Time I Spent Reading This Book

Pulse is written by Patrick Carman. It was published in 2013 by Katherine Tegen. It is the first book in the Pulse trilogy.

With the help of her mysterious classmate Dylan Gilmore, Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and Dylan has the talent, too. In riveting action scenes, Faith demonstrates her ability to use her pulse against a group of telekinesis masters who are so powerful they can flatten their enemies by uprooting streetlights, throwing boulders, and changing the course of a hurtling hammer so that it becomes a deadly weapon. But even with her unusual talent, the mind—and the heart—can be difficult to control. If Faith wants to join forces with Dylan and save the world, she’ll have to harness the power of both.

I’ve read Patrick Carman’s Land of Elyon books, which is why I picked up Pulse. But reading this actually shocked me, because I didn’t remember Carman writing as badly as he writes in Pulse. Maybe’s he’s experimenting with a new style, or maybe my memory is just bad and I can’t remember the way Elyon was written, but I almost stopped reading 30 pages in.

I can’t even describe why his writing was so bad. It’s something that you have to read for yourself to understand. The viewpoint was all over the place, often switching from sentence to sentence, and the writing itself was so mechanical. There’s only so many times you can listen to descriptions like “She examined it like a scientist” before you want to go read something else. There were also way too many “Faith didn’t know it, but…” or “If Faith knew what blank was planning, she would have thought twice about blank.” Also, Carman tries way too hard to dump meaning into a single activity: “There was no doubting an artistic ability that blossomed most powerfully during times of grief. There had been a lot of grief lately, and her work had turned darker and more mature. It was sad, really, that the world had to turn so dark in order to bring out her true talent.” Yes, we get it. Just start playing the violins already.

Also, all the worldbuilding information is dumped at you in one conversation in the middle of the book, which is a really clunky way to worldbuild. Also, the summary’s description of the action scenes as “riveting” is hilarious. They’re about as riveting as watching paint dry.

Honestly, this book had me alternating from being bored to tears to wanting to never read a single word in it. It was that bad. So bad that I can’t even bring myself to give you a quote because I don’t want to subject you to the terrible prose.

Rating: 1/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Sexual situations, psychic teenagers.

Genre: Dystopian, Supernatural, Young Adult

Overall Review:

I never want to look at this book again, or read another one in the trilogy. It’s a shame, because I like Carman’s Land of Elyon books. I don’t understand why his writing style changed so drastically (if it did at all; it’s been a while since I’ve read Elyon).

You can buy this here: Pulse

Fairy Tale Friday: The Hero’s Guide To Being An Outlaw

The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw is written by Christopher Healy. It was published in 2014 by Walden Pond Press. It is the sequel to The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects, along with Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Lila. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names.

Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead them across the ocean, through a scorching desert, and to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

The illustrations in this book were fantastic. There were about two or three where the heroes are just staring/standing dramatically and pretty much just captured the entire ambience of the book.

All the princes were pretty awesome in this book and not as bumbly and incapable, yay! I mean, their chance to save the day was ruined by someone else doing it before them and getting all the credit (again), but still…they all had their awesome moments, especially Frederic, who is probably the most developed of all the princes.

I must admit, I was pretty shocked when I read the book summary and read about Briar’s murder, just because it sounded pretty dark for such a light-hearted book as this one. But Healy manages it well while also maintaining the silly voice that makes these books so fun to read.

I still wish there had been a bit less bumbling, and Healy beat to death the whole “one of the princes starts doing something awesome but another one comes along and messes it up” trope in this book.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade

“Well, you’ve never faced men like us before,” Liam said, staring him down.

“You mean an overconfident braggart, a muscle-bound doofus, a tiny weirdo, and a beanpole in silk pajamas?” Greenfang said. “Yeah, I’ll give you that. It’s a new combination for me. Now let’s get you to Avondell.”

“I have a question,” Duncan said, raising his hand. “What do mongooses eat?”

“It’s mongeese,” Erik corrected.

“No, really, it’s not,” Pete huffed. “It’s mongooses.”

“EITHER IS ACCEPTABLE!” Greenfang shouted at them.

Overall Review:

The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw still contains a little too much of the bumbling, carried to repetitive excess by Healy in this one, but on the whole it shows a ton of character development and contains a lot of fun. The illustrations are fantastic, the part with the genie in the desert was my favorite scene in the book, and Duncan continues to be hilariously weird and random.

You can buy this here: The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw

The Creole Princess: Review Copy

Disclaimer: The Creole Princess, by Beth White, is a review copy provided by Revell. Therefore, the format of this review will deviate from my normal blog review format.

It is 1776, and all along the eastern seaboard the American struggle for independence rages. But in the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is much quieter—though no less deadly.
Lyse Lanier may be largely French in heritage, but she spends most of her time in the company of the ebullient daughter of the British commander of Mobile. When a charming young Spanish merchant docks in town, Lyse is immediately struck by his easy wit and flair for the dramatic. But is he truly who he makes himself out to be? Spies abound, and Spain has yet to choose a side in the American conflict. Is Lyse simply an easy mark for Rafael Gonzalez to exploit? Or are his overtures of love as genuine as Spanish gold?

I was very, very pleased to discover that The Creole Princess places more emphasis on the “historical” aspect of its genre than the “romance” part. I had very little idea of what took place in the South during the Revolutionary war, much less the role that Spain played, and this book helped to show what it was like. I also appreciated the note the author gave at the end explaining some of the events that occurred.

I thought the balance between the historical and the romance pretty good, at first, but unfortunately, towards the end of the book, I thought that things were very rushed. There were too many time jumps and as a result, the changes in the characters were too abrupt, as well. And it was irritating that rather than show us things that happened, White told us what happened after a six-month time jump. I was very confused when Lyse and Scarlet suddenly switched jobs after apparently being thrown out of the house, since neither the character of the woman who threw them out nor the situation that led to them being thrown out was made clear. And there was also a point when Rafael basically tells Lyse, “I have to get you and your grandfather out of the city,” and then when we time-jump to six months later, Lyse is in New Orleans and her grandfather is in Mobile, having never left. Huh?? There was a lot of things that went on “behind the scenes” that was not adequately explained, and so I found the ending to be rushed and confusing.

As for the romance, it was all right. It wasn’t particularly original nor particularly mediocre. I did feel that the beginning was forced and almost too comical, but I liked Lyse as a character, and I liked Rafael. I wish that some of the more difficult aspects of their relationship hadn’t been hand-waved away, or in this case, time-jumped away. At one point Rafael is certain that Lyse doesn’t love him, and then time-jump to six months later and he’s now no longer uncertain, and I’m now confused as to what I missed.

The Creole Princess pays a lot of attention to history, which I appreciated since I learned some things I hadn’t known previously. However, this attention to history made the ending rushed and I felt as if the characters were shunted aside to make room for the “development of the war” plot. The romance was nothing spectacular, but it was a decent romance for a book like this, and I liked the characters even though a lot of their development was lost in the time-jumps.

My rating: 3/5

Warnings: None.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian

You can buy this here: The Creole Princess

On Shifting Sand: Review Copy

Disclaimer: On Shifting Sand, by Allison Pittman, is a review copy provided by Tyndale. Therefore, the format of this review will deviate from my normal blog review format.

Long before anyone would christen the Dust Bowl, Nola Merrill senses the destruction. She’s been drying up bit by bit since the day her mother died, leaving her with a father who withholds his affection the way God keeps a grip on the Oklahoma rain. A hasty marriage to Russ, a young preacher, didn’t bring the escape she desired. Now, twelve years later with two children to raise, new seeds of dissatisfaction take root.

When Jim, a long-lost friend from her husband’s past, takes refuge in their home, Nola slowly springs to life under his attentions until their reckless encounters bring her to commit the ultimate betrayal of her marriage. For months Nola withers in the wake of the shame she so desperately tries to bury, burning to confess her sin but wondering whether Russ’s love will be strong enough to stand the test.

On Shifting Sand is an intriguing look at the effect a buried secret has on a person and on a marriage. Allison Pittman does a great job of balancing the sympathy that the reader feels for Nola as a first-person narrator with the insights that lead us to understand that Nola is an unreliable narrator. In other words, we feel sympathetic for Nola, but not so much that we fail to see her own mistakes and her own self-delusions.

I thought it was a pity that the summary of the book pretty much tells you exactly what happens, but I suppose that can’t really be helped. Just be warned that what takes the summary 150 words to describe takes almost three times that in the book, with very little deviation or expansion. The book is pretty thick, and at parts it drags a little, but Pittman does a good job of disguising her filler so that even the parts that were more tedious meshed well with plot and development.

I also thought this book has a pretty good look at how temptation strikes and how it affects people. Nola is pretty unhappy with her life (or thinks she’s unhappy—she’s an unreliable narrator, and her reflection on her unhappiness don’t always match up with how she feels during certain moments) and struggling with self-doubt and self-esteem issues, and then along comes Jim, someone new and exciting and exactly the opposite of Russ. I’m glad that Pittman doesn’t lay on the symbolism in the book too thickly and only mentions it specifically in her author’s note, because this book could have easily become a preachy, overreaching mess. Instead, the symbolism is subtle and much more effective.

On Shifting Sand can feel pretty long in some parts, and the effectiveness of the summary in telling you exactly what happens in the book actually made me want to read the book less, but Pittman strikes good balance between sympathy and unreliability and does symbolism very well. It was a well-done look at adultery, temptation, and the effects those have on a marriage.

My rating: 4/5 (closer to 3.5)

Warnings: None.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian

You can buy this here: On Shifting Sand

Fairy Tale Friday: The Princess And The Goblin

The Princess and the Goblin was written by George MacDonald. It was first published in 1871.

“Princess Irene’s discovery of a secret stair leads to a wonderful revelation. At the same time, Curdie overhears a fiendish plot by the goblins. Princess Irene & Curdie must make sense of their separate knowledge & foil the goblins’ schemes.”

Oh, the pleasure of reading childhood favorites over again! While I didn’t remember precise details from when I read this (or had this read to me) as a child, I still remembered little things, such as Irene’s thread, the goblin’s tender feet, the goblin queen’s toes, and especially the wise woman in the attic. MacDonald always seems to have a wise woman present in his fairy tales (one plays a large role in his The Lost Princess [alternate title: The Wise Woman], which I read multiple times as a child), who is always magical, mysterious, and a little displaced from reality, as if she is beyond reality.

The fairy-tale aspect of The Princess and the Goblin and the sheer pleasure I received from reading it almost made up for the fact that Princess Irene is a cardboard character, and Curdie not so much better. As I mentioned in my review of Heidi, the moralizing and the character models are partly due to the time the book was written and not so much any lack of skill on MacDonald’s part (although he’s not the greatest writer), and the book was enjoyable regardless. Despite their one-dimensionality and perfection, I loved Curdie’s rhymes and his bravery in facing the goblins, and I loved that Irene is the one to rescue Curdie (with the help of the wise woman). I also enjoyed the split second of temper tantrum that Irene indulged in right before finding Curdie, since it made her less of a perfect princess.

For being the antagonists of the story, I found the goblins’ animals to be scarier than the goblins, and I enjoyed the glimpse at the goblin’s world that MacDonald gives us, especially the brief look at their customs. For a book that’s so short, MacDonald accomplishes quite a lot of worldbuilding. I think that’s why this fairy tale really stands out, and why it stayed with me all these years.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Children’s

“Why do they wear shoes up there?”

“Ah, now that’s a sensible question, and I will answer it. But in order to do so, I must first tell you a secret. I once saw the queen’s feet.”

“Without her shoes?”

“Yes—without her shoes.”

“No! Did you? How was it?”

“Never you mind how it was. She didn’t know I saw them. And what do you think!—they had toes!”

Overall Review:

The Princess and the Goblin is a beloved story from my childhood and, reading it again however many years later, remains beloved. The glimpse at the goblin world and their amusing dialogue is a sharp, and sometimes welcome (although MacDonald likely didn’t plan it that way), contrast with Irene, sometimes Curdie, and the wise woman, who are almost sickly sweet in their perfection (the wise woman because she’s supposed to be, Irene and Curdie because they are moral models). Despite the presence of character types that I denounce in other books, I still think MacDonald’s fairy tale is sublime in almost every way.

You can buy this here: The Princess and The Goblin