A True Princess published by HarperCollins in Feb. 2011
Author: Diane Zahler
I love a good fairy tale, and have even had a few of my own published over at the wonderful Enchanted Conversation. Because I care so much about classical fairy tales, I always view modern reinterpretations of older fairy tales with a mix of anticipation and nervousness. Still, the anticipation usually wins out, and I was excited to hear about A True Princess.
A review copy arrived from HarperCollins the day before yesterday, and I can honestly say I was entranced. The book looks even better in hand than it does online, what that wonderful read-me-now quality. Fortunately, this charming and exciting book by Diane Zahler lives up to its promise.
In fairy tale fashion, the story starts with 12-year-old Lilia overhearing her cruel stepmother threatening to send her to work for the away, but things change rapidly as Lilia takes matters into her own hands and runs away first. Like many of the best early fantasy stories, Lilia is a strong and independent girl, though not without her weaknesses. Girls of around this age will love her spirit and smarts, and boys will love the scenes with the Elf King and the dreadful Odin.
While the story uses the core of the Princess and the Pea, which makes certain parts a little predictable, there are different stories woven together, and the romantic entanglements are more complex than they appear at first, although all both satisfying and age-appropriate. Who will get the Prince? How will they vanquish the Elf King? Fortunately, the book is not too long, as kids are likely to beg to stay up and keep reading it.
I would recommend this strongly for girls, and for boys who like mythical adventures and fairy tales. It is aimed well at 9-12 year-olds, although I think it would have a lot of appeal for strong readers who are a little younger as well.
Four stars out of five.
Incidentally, Diane Zahler has written one other fairy tale retelling, The Thirteenth Princess, based loosely on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," which I am now eager to read. Hers is a name to watch for the kind of exciting fairy tale fantasy which so excites young readers.
More about A True Princess on Amazon.com
More about A True Princess on Amazon.co.uk