Thursday, April 15, 2010
Written by: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Released: April 8, 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Summary: Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.
With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available specimen of imbecilic manhood. Starved and miserable, locked in the castles highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . .
But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat facing the castle and indeed the entire country. Can Princess Ben save her kingdom from annihilation and herself from permanent enslavement?
This was a book that I greatly enjoyed. I liked how it incorporated different fairy tales in passing while creating its own unique tale of magic and mayhem. The setting was gorgeous, the plot interesting, and the characters were well-thought and real. I also found myself laughing out loud at several occasions.
Princess Ben was an enigma to me though. Sure, she was an easy character to like and one that was easy to follow, but I couldn’t help but not think of her as “fat” when that was what the book was going for. I was picturing her as average but surrounded by women who were border-line anorexic, and maybe with a little baby fat that had yet to fall away. I suppose I also didn’t quite understand why she was so difficult as times as well when things seemed to be done only to help her along in life. However, she was funny and ingenious; the dragon bit had me laughing for a long time.
I thought that the romance was a little lacking, but that it only aided the story. The way that it was written – the struggle, the denial, the pure unwanting – made things seem more real than if they fell in love at first sight. That doesn’t mean that I liked Prince Florian. I also felt rather sorry for Queen Regent Sophia; she just seemed so sad underneath everything but it was a sadness that had been there for quite some time. My guess would be unrequited love with her childhood goat herd boy.
All together this was a fun, easy read that I greatly enjoyed. I’m giving it an 8/10 for being creative, hilarious, and fairy tale perfect.