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.
I had mixed feelings about this book, but overall, I really enjoyed it. I think the “mixed emotions” come from the fact that I was told this was a YA book. However, it does seem (very much) aimed towards a middle school audience. However, I will forget that surprise, for the sake of this review.
It was really lovely, with a quirky “this is a fantasy land, but we all know it’s kind of tropey” sort of way. The characters felt that it was ridiculous they were ill-prepared for a quest, they thought that stereotypes for wizards were kind of jokes, and they all just sighed at the weight placed on “true love’s kiss.” That was my favorite part of this story – the way fantasy cliches were used in the story (very Tough Guide to Fantasyland-esuqe).
As I said, I do believe this was written for middle schoolers. Although it had a very quirky little plot, it was simple, and it was written simply. The characters were young, and the writing did a very good job of depicting that. I wouldn’t say any of them had any sort of savior story line going on, which was actually really refreshing. I think this is a case of a middle school book that reads FOR middle schoolers, but is still readable by older ages. As in, some middle school novels really fall between categories – this piece is very much on the middle school range.
As I said, this story captures the cliche fantasy magic very well. You could feel the wonderment of the characters seeping through. Even though it was their world, the main characters had never really left home. They had never seen any of the magic and excitement of their world, so you got to experience their childlike wonder alongside.
Also, there were freaking dogs everywhere, which was AWESOME. Like, the dogs were the royal advisors and Anya’s right hand assistant was a PUPPY TRAINING TO BE AN ADVISOR. It was so cute, and he was so eager to help, and honestly it was probably my most favorite thing I have ever read. This puppy’s dialogue was exactly what I would expect from my dog on such an endeavour, and it was the most endearing thing I have ever encountered.
Overall, this was a great book. If you don’t mind the simple style and plot of middle school novels (which I don’t!) this would be very readable for any audience.
3.5 out of 5