Thursday, 27 March 2014
#CBR6 Book 23: "Princess of the Silver Woods" by Jessica Day George
Rating: 3 stars
This is the third book in a series, which began with Princess of the Midnight Ball. While you don't really need to have read the second book in the series, Princess of Glass to fully appreciate the book, you should probably have read the first one (or at least be more than passingly familiar with the fairytale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses) to get the full experience of this book, as there are a lot of references to the events of the first book. There will also be mild spoilers for the first book in this review. You have been warned.
Princess Petunia is the youngest of King Gregor's twelve flower-monikered daughters, and spent the first few years of her childhood dancing every night in the shadowy realms of the King Under Stone. The curse was broken when her eldest sister Rose's now husband Galen figured out a way to defeat the King Under Stone and trap those of his twelve sons that survived in their underground kingdom. Lately, Petunia and her sisters have been having nightmares where they're back, forced to dance with their terrifying suitors. Several of the princesses are wasting away under the strain, and it's obvious that there is still a curse hanging over them.
Petunia is on her way to the estates of a neighbouring Grand Duchess, who seems to want to make a match between the young princess and her grandson, Grigori. On the way through the woods, Petunia's carriage is attacked by highwaymen dressed in wolf masks, and Petunia is abducted once she sees the face of one of bandits. It turns out that the bandits are in fact run by a young Earl, whose lands were lost after the recent war and who's been forced to turn outlaw to support his dependants. Young Oliver knows that he's playing a dangerous game, he's now convinced he's going to be executed, having kidnapped a member of the royal family. Petunia, however, is appalled that her father has just abandoned the Earl and his people, and promises to argue his case, as long as they take her to Grand Duchess Volenskaya as quickly as possible.
Once Petunia arrives at the kindly old grandmother's house, however, it becomes quite obvious that the old lady's benevolence may be masking something more sinister. Shadowy figures roam the gardens and flock around Petunia's window at night. Petunia contacts her sisters, they will have to work together to defeat the new King under Stone and his evil brothers once and for all. Oliver must travel to King Gregor to alert him of the danger to his youngest child, even if it means risking imprisonment and even execution for his crimes.
Princess of the Midnight Ball was a creative retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, while Princess of Glass borrowed heavily from Cinderella. As may be obvious to the reader from the cover, with Petunia in her lovely red cloak, the fairy tale that Princess in the Silver Woods is indebted to, is Red Riding Hood. There's the young girl on her way to a grandmother, who encounters a wolf of sorts in the woods, but those are as far as comparisons can be drawn, really. There are a number of other fairy tale elements in the book, though. There is the dastardly King Under Stone, heir to the original, and his brothers who are still intent on forcing the twelve princesses into marriage, no matter that some of them have husbands in the real world whom they love dearly. There is a wise old crone and enchanted rose bushes and a curse that must be broken. It qualifies nicely for my Monthly Motif Challenge, which this month focuses on fairy tale retellings, but it wasn't, on the whole, one of the most memorable books I've read.
The target audience for Jessica Day George's Princess books is obviously in the lower end of young adult, so they're not meant to necessarily thrill me. I still found both the previous books more entertaining than this, and here parts of the storyline felt a bit stretched, as if the author didn't quite have the idea for a full book, but went ahead and wrote it anyway, to finish off a trilogy. The characters are sweet enough, but I mainly finished this book out of a sense of completion. Hoping that the author does something new and exciting next.
Crossposted at Cannonball Read.