Fractured Fairy Tales
Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is a prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier, living out a life sentence for her life as a notorious assassin. After surviving a year as a slave in the harsh mines, she is suddenly given a way to freedom: the king is hosting a competition for a position as his personal assassin, and Prince Dorian, crown prince of Endovier, wants to champion Celaena. Despite her loathing for the war-faring king, Celaena agrees, and her new journey–emotional and physical–begins. Once she arrives at the palace, she finds her competition to be fierce, full of other criminals and soldiers. Over the weeks of elimination challenges, Celaena finds herself involved with many of the big names at court. She also finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery as other potential assassins are found dead, one by one. Is she next? How can she stop what seems to be a malevolent, magical force? A destiny awaits her beyond any she could have imagined. Oh, and don’t forget love interests! (I’ll just say “love triangle with swoon-worthy guys” and leave it at that.)
Maas started her story on the premise that Cinderella was actually a deadly assassin. (more…)
In Fleischman’s book, stories from countries world-wide are pieced together to create the single story of Cinderella, told from beginning to end despite the sometimes incongruous pieces. A sweet, beautiful girl who is mistreated but makes her way to meet the prince, falls in love, and lives happily ever after, albeit sometimes with golden sandals and sometimes with diamond anklets.
Paschkis’ illustrations are reminiscent of wood block prints alternating between descriptive narrative illustrations and background images of ethnic food, clothing, and creatures. Bright, bold pictures pop off the page, and each ethnic section is stacked on others, appearing almost quilt-like in its narrative arc. Paschkis did a good job of keeping images relevant to the text and bringing up cultural differences that children will delight in pointing out. (more…)
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
In this beautiful retelling of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale, Hale takes a classic and makes it her own, weaving in countless details of two unknown kingdoms and the characters–both good and bad–who fill them.
Growing up, Ani has always known that she is not the Crown Princess her mother wishes her to be: she is not good at speaking with others and is not diplomatic or charming like her mother, who has the ability of “people-speaking”. Instead she feels more at home by the pond where her nursemary once taught her the language of the swans and the bluejays overhead; even her horse, Falada, shares her thoughts and feelings. Still, Ani does her best to grow into the queen she is destined to be, and with the help of her graceful maid-in-waiting, Selia, she struggles forth.
At the burial of her suddenly deceased father, though, her mother announces that another sibling will be crowned; feeling betrayed and bitter, Ani learns she has been betrothed to a prince in the kingdom across the mountains, Bayern, as a peace-offering to prevent war. On the months’ long journey through the forests and mountains, half of her riders revolt and Selia abandons her, claiming that she–who, like the queen, has the skill of charming speech, “people speaking”–deserves to be princess instead and will be a maid-in-waiting no more. Ani runs for her life, chased by the murderers who know she could ruin their plot, and finds herself alone and with (more…)
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Princess Benevolence—nicknamed Ben—is a stocky, stubborn, and intelligent girl. When tragedy strikes and her parents are assassinated, Ben, as the only heir to the throne, must move into the palace with her strict, controlling aunt. Beaten, abused, and locked in the tallest tower, Ben is miserable until the night she discovers a hidden room and learns the magic that can set her free. It’s just the beginning of her journey as she realizes her country is about to be invaded by a bordering nation. From detestable dance lessons and embroidery to a trek through frigid mountain tops and enslavement at the enemy camp, Ben must survive dismal tasks and epic adventures, all the while maturing into the strong leader her people need her to be.
Here there be dragons, princes, princesses, flying broomsticks, magical tomes, and a snarky back-and-forth romance between Ben and the enemy’s Prince Florian. Fans of Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted will love Ben and her determined, progressive attitude, and the adventures and mystical situations she finds herself in will captivate readers. Princess Ben kept me up until the wee hours of the morning, needing to know just how she was going to save the day. Murdock’s writing is fluid, smart, and compelling, making this book a great fantasy read, especially for lovers of the twisted princess fairy tale genre.
Available as an eBook
Image from www.panmacmillan.com.au