I knew I wanted to read this book, I really did. First off, I’m a sucker for the fairy tale sub-genre of fantasy. I have been since high school, when I discovered Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s adult fairy tale series and short story collections. I gobbled up re-tellings after that – everything from Robin McKinley to Jane Yolen to Charles de Lint and Mercedes Lackey. And I’ve adored the YA presence on the fairy tale scene, as well. Shannon Hale, Edith Pattou, and old favorite Patricia C. Wrede…these ladies know how a fairy tale should be told.
Secondly, I know I like Jessica Day George’s writing. I read her Dragon Slippers trilogy, and I enjoyed the enthusiasm and inventiveness that pervaded her writing. So, despite not having read its precursor, Princess of the Midnight Ball, I requested this book. I even ended up waiting in line at ALA for an autographed copy of it. I knew the blurb, I’d seen the cover, I’d decided I wanted it. And yet, when I had the ARC version sitting in my house for a week, I couldn’t bring myself to crack the cover.
Why? Obstinacy. When I am faced with a book that I MUST read, on a deadline, I (sometimes) get tetchy. I find fault with a perfectly good story. I’ll pick it up, put it down, decide to start another book, find another, 'better' one. In this case, it was orneriness, pure and simple. The cover was so PINK, and I wasn’t feeling PINK, if you know what I mean. I was feeling like swords and death and…well…you can look at the titles I’ve reviewed over the past couple of weeks: A Madness of Angels, Cold Magic (review forthcoming), and I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It.
Ahem. But today I was home sick from work, and I decided to do something ‘worthwhile,’ which ended up being to read and finish Princess of Glass.
The engrossing companion novel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, with a wicked twist on Cinderella.
Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other’s countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It’s got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince.
Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.
My worries from before? Tempest in a teacup. This was a charming little tale, engaging and just what it should be, in the best way possible. While it doesn’t delve too deeply into the darker side of fairy tale lore, it does have moments of introspection on the nature of fate and right and wrong. It will please those who pick it up for its cover, and perhaps guide them to a love of myth and magic. And it will probably pleasantly surprise those who pick it up in spite of its cover (hello, prime example here!).
One of those lovely surprises was the main character. Poppy is a perfect example of ‘a girl who does things.’ She’s not passive – she’s strong, smart, and she can run her own life pretty well, thanks! She’s not stupid with her courage, but she doesn’t hesitate to say what she thinks, and it is all very, very natural. I think Poppy is quite possibly one of the most likeable heroines I’ve met in a while. We would be instant friends, I say!
However (there's always some qualifying word like 'however' in my reviews, have you noticed?) I did have a couple of minor grumbles left in me. The ending was left very tidy. I…won’t go so far as to say I HATE that, but let’s just put it around that it’s not my first choice. Subtlety is sublime. Authors, I don’t want to know how the character’s entire life will evolve, especially if your story ends while she is still in her teens. Yes, I am the girl who was a bit sad to see the Harry Potter epilogue, thanks for asking, and I’ll shut up now, no worries.
Oh, except there was that one continuity problem…and the fact that Prince Christian didn’t act much like a teenage boy (I have three younger brothers, so I may qualify as an expert on them. In some circles.). He was noble and understanding and content to hang out with the girls. You're right, I refine too much. He must be the best eighteen year old ever invented! But that’s all inconsequential, right? Especially if I can tell you (and I can, dear readers!), that these small complaints did not alter my essential enjoyment of the story. So it was cute and neat – so what! It fit my mood perfectly tonight.
Recommended for: romantics, fairy tale enthusiasts, fans of light YA fantasy, and anyone looking for a spunky girl hero.