Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Published: 26th February 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic
Pages: 372
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

This is a fairytale through and through. There are talking dogs, princesses and a kingdom to defend and it has so many fabulous and magical moments it is pure delight. I loved how Nix causally throws in comments and lines as if they are perfectly normal sentences when they are not. It is makes reading a lot of fun and adds another layer of humour to enjoy. It is part of the fairytale trope or style I suppose that these things just happen but it was also great having this matter of fact, ‘what are you going to do about it?’ approach as well.

Anya is a great kid, she is thirteen which is hard to remember at times because of the things she achieves, but it is also a great reminder when she is doing these great deeds that she is only a child. There are moments where Anya realises how sheltered her life has been and you see her grow as she comes to understand the imbalance in the world and learn about kindness and the danger of too much power. It is a nice message that works well in the narrative and put in a way kids can appreciate without it being too heavy handed.

The story is filled with small moments and epic Quest moments which balance wonderfully. The individual characters are unique and help make this story feel like a classic fairy tale as well as a new type of story that brings the whole world to life. It is fun and filled with magic, friendships and Nix has established a vivid world that feels new while still cementing itself as a clear fairytale story with a villain, a goal, and a hero.

This is easily an adult or kid book and I think both audiences will have different things to take away from it. Even young kids will love this, it is filled with adventure and Quests, it’s funny but not silly, and Nix knows all the right moves to pull to make a great fairytale story new and exciting whilst also relying on the old and beloved.

You can purchase Frogkisser! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

DymocksAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier

Published: 2nd January 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Luminant Publications
Pages: 244
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Fairy Tale
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

One dark and stormy night, lost and alone, Alyssa finds herself knocking on the door of a castle. 

After a lifetime spent in the deep forest, Alyssa has no idea what to expect on the other side. 

What she finds is two unruly young princesses and one very handsome prince. When Alyssa accepts the job of Princess Companion she knows her life will change. What she doesn’t know is that the royal family is about to be swept up in unexpected danger and intrigue and that she just might be the only thing standing between her kingdom and destruction. 

This retelling of the classic fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea, reimagines the risks and rewards that come when one royal family goes searching for a true princess. 

Danger and romance await a woodcutter’s daughter in a royal palace.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

Fairy tale retellings are some of my favourite books and fairy tales themselves are one of my favourite genres. I love everything about them, their universality, their ability to become any story possible while still being recognised at a level as being a fairy tale, and I love that there are one hundred ways to tell the exact same story and have it come out one hundred different ways.

Cellier’s story is exactly this. It is The Princess and the Pea story we all recognise, but told in a way that it becomes a whole new story on its own. There is still so much of a fairytale in this story: woodcutter’s daughter, godmothers, princes and kingdoms, but Cellier manages to create something more intricate and complex than the original tale. It is sweet, creative, incredibly clever, and even sneaks in another fairy tale reference and shows us what happens at the end of a happily ever after.

The writing feels really honest. Cellier easily could have fallen into the trap of having misunderstandings resulting in the stereotypical drama caused by miscommunication, but she doesn’t. Alyssa is upfront and honest about mistakes and even though it doesn’t always work it, she is never is dishonest or deceptive.

The narration stays with Alyssa for the majority of the book which is a wonderful move as we get to see the palace life and her experience through her eyes and thoughts. You really can’t ask for a better character than Alyssa. She is honest and intelligent, filled with wisdom but also delightfully innocent at the same time. Where readers can see the affection between Max and Alyssa, she always comes to the wrong conclusion. It’s so sweet, and it is a nice change than having her pine for a prince she can’t have.

Alyssa’s role as a Princess Companion brings about all sorts of adventure and danger, and seeing her develop and change, along with all the other characters, is quite rewarding. When the romance emerges it is beautifully told; Cellier doesn’t spring it on us, she weaves it through, misdirection and ignorance throughout. I can’t go on enough about how well this is written.

The original Princess and the Pea fairy tale is not an overly popular retelling compared to Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, but Cellier has expanded on this incredibly short fairy tale phenomenally, giving depth and fullness to every character and creating a solid and emotionally stable story all within the beginning and end of the traditional fairy tale.

Reading this novel gives you the warm fuzzy feeling that a well-told story produces, and this simple fairy tale has been filled with so much, so many details and complexities, tiny moments that add so much meaning but seem so innocent. It’s fantastic. Cellier truly has written an enchanting, enthralling, and brilliant novel that still feels like you are reading a classic fairy tale.

You can purchase The Princess Companion via the following

Amazon

Amazon Aust

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