Not So Perfect Princesses

It seems as soon as I decided to name the character in my new book series Princess P I came across all these books about princesses, so my last post for the year reviews some books about not so perfect princesses.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

As I child I watched a BBC production of this story and enjoyed it so much I can still remember much of it today, but I never read the book (probably because the book is never as good after you have seen the movie). When this book came packed with a book I really wanted to read, The Princess and The Suffragette, I decided to give it a read first, and I’m so pleased I did. Much as I really enjoyed the television version of the book, Frances Hodgson Burnett has a way of writing characters that make them so much more vivid than television is able to.

This story about a rich girl who finds herself a servant in the boarding school she attends when orphaned is sure to capture the heart of young readers who have enjoyed the Our Australian Girl series. Sara is a kindhearted character who attempts to deal with the changes in her life with as much dignity as she can muster, and she is lucky enough to have her true friends stand by her.

Through the story we are given a glimpse of how the class system in Victorian England treated girls and women of different classes, as well as finding out a little of the history of the empire. All this happens while the reader is engaged in a “can’t put down” story that has you hoping for a happy ending for Sara.

Buy A Little Princess from Amazon

The Princess and The Suffragette by Holly Webb

I have to admit I didn’t pick up this book because I wanted to read Holly Webb’s sequel to A Little Princess, but rather because I wanted to see what a book about suffragette’s for Middle Grade Readers would be like. In my early teens right through to … well now … I have been fascinated by the women who agitated for votes for women.

Holly Webb’s sequel moves forward a few years and focuses on youngest character from A Little Princess. Lottie is lonely and feels alienated from her father, who has all but abandoned her in Miss Minchin’s School for Girls. She is seeing her friend Sara less, but finds a new friend in a young scullery maid and a sense of freedom and rebellion in supporting the suffragette movement.

True to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ordinal story, this book also takes a long look at the roles women played in society in Victorian England, and how they fought to change it. I love that she uses real historical event as a backdrop, and that they are just that—the history is secondary to the story of a young girl growing up and learning of her past. I hope you enjoy the twist as much as I did!

I would certainly recommend reading this after A Little Princess, but I also works well as a stand alone for your tween readers.

Buy The Princess and The Suffragette from Amazon

Winter Flame by K.A. Last and The Snow Queen’s Daughter by Serene Conneeley

For the older readers who still enjoy a more traditional princess, I recommend curling up with the anthology of fairy tale retellings Fairytale Christmas. There are lots of great reimagining of old favourites here, but I think two of the strongest and most enjoyable come from a couple of my favourite Australian authors (although I may be a little biased).

Winter Flame by K.A.Last is a mash up of The Little Match Girl and The Princess and the Pea which is much more satisfying than either of the originals. Ember, the main character, is unsettled being placed in a strange environment, but proves stronger than everyone when she is true to her inner-self and allows compassion to guide her decision. I think you’ll be surprised by the twists in this fairytale, but also warmed by the ending.

Serene Conneeley has written the Snow Queen’s tale from her daughter’s point of view, and it is a real love / coming of age story, but with a twist I didn’t see coming. Even more surprising though was the portrait of the Snow Queen. Don’t get me wrong, she is still the villain of the piece, but I kept getting glimpses of why she was the way she was, and I started to warm to her.

There are other great stories in this book, and I can recommend it for a beach/fire side read this holiday break.

Buy Fairytale Christmas from Amazon

If princesses aren’t your teen’s thing, why not look here for some other fantasy reads

Away with the Faery … Tales

Like many, I have not wanted to spend time in reality, so I dipped into a couple of new faery tale releases from two Australian authors. Although they both fit into the faery tale genre, they are two very different offerings. The first is an original Australian fairytale, and the second is a retelling—dare I even say improvement— of Snow White.

Apologies, it has been a while since my last post. With a worldwide epidemic I, like many others, have retreated to my family bubbles and have not really dared to peek out much. Good news is all this time has given me a chance to read book—lots of books. So there will me quite a number of reviews over the next few weeks.

Like many, I have not wanted to spend time in reality, so I dipped into a couple of new faery tale releases from two Australian authors. Although they both fit into the faery tale genre, they are two very different offerings. The first is an original Australian fairytale, and the second is a retelling—dare I even say improvement— of Snow White.

The Swan Maiden by Serene Conneeley

I really did not know what to expect when I decided to read a modern day faery tale, but I loved the idea of it being set in my adoptive home—Australia—and decided to give it a go. Right from the first moment when the swan started telling of her relationship with a young girl I was caught hook, line and sinker.

The Swan Maiden is a story about love in all its forms, and its ability to heal, to transform and to enrich life. Told through the eyes of Signet, and following the swan mother’s relationship with a young girl she meets in a park we are swept into a modern day world where magic still exists and love can still save us.

A faery tale is defined at literaryterms.net as a fanciful wondrous story with magical elements that spark imagination and where we can experience thinks in our mind before we experience them in the real world. In her beautifully told tale, Serene Conneeley takes us out of time and challenges our imagination with real world problems, and her tale is definitely wondrous. Not only that, but she managed to take me back to my time in Ireland when I fell in love with Irish Faery Tales, and for that alone I would have loved this book.

When I started reading I felt this book would be great for that hard to buy for age—the tweens, and I have to say it is a perfect story for them. But like all good children’s book, this story has another whole level that will be enjoyed by adults who still love a good faery tale and by romantics of all ages

Buy the Swan Maiden at The Bookdepository

Chasing Neve by K.A.Last

I am not a fairy princess girl—never have been, never will be. So it won’t come as no shock to you that Snow White was one of those stories that never appealed to me as a child. Still, I like K.A Last as an author, so I decided to give her re-telling of Chasing Neve a whirl.

I could be flip and say this book is nothing like the Snow White of my childhood, and to a certain extent that would be correct—but it would also be untrue. Chasing Never has; an orphan girl, a wicked step mother, a magic mirror, a huntsmen, an apple and even the dwarves are there—sort of. There the similarities end.

Snow White—or Neve as she is in this book—is not waiting for anyone to rescue her and get rid of her step-mother. No, she is quite prepared to do that herself, even if that means going on an adventure through magical lands to get what she needs to save her country and her people—even if that means facing a dragon.

There are still enough of the elements of the original story to keep Snow White fans happy, and there may even be a little romance, but the happy ever after is a little different, and Neve is a kick-ass heroine.

Early teens and above who love the retellings of faery tales should definitely add this to their shelves, but fantasy readers who love a strong female facing adversity will also enjoy this read.

Buy Chasing Neve at The BookDepository