Friday, September 16, 2011

The Princess Curse

The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Harper, 2011
325 pages
YA; Fairy Tale
4/5 stars

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon's Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

I held back on reading this because I wanted to save it for a special occasion, such as being my 300th book read for the year! I had been reading some disappointing books and I was hoping for something to lift me out of my doldrums. Well I accidentally read a different book first so this was 301 and it wasn't as great as I had hoped.

The main character is Revelka, a herbalist's apprentice who serves in the castle where the twelve princesses have been cursed to dance their shoes to pieces for years, resulting in extreme danger for them and the kingdom as enemies encircle their land. Additionally all who have attempted to break the curse have been put into a almost deathlike sleep. And yet the curse has not been broken. After Revelka's friend falls under the curse, she becomes even more motivated to solve the mystery and secure the prize.

I mostly liked Revelka, who has the bad habit of lying but who is smart and spunky. Well, mostly; she's also drawn to a forbidden love interest in the plot aspect that really let me down.  I was very creeped out by the dynamics between her and the love interest as she is only thirteen and while I guess he's a decent man, I didn't really like him.  Additionally, I thought his appearance coincided with the pace of the book slowing down. Although I read the whole book quickly, the first half definitely moved better than the second.

Another thing I didn't like was the princesses.  There are twelve, of course, with various mothers; only two are technically legitimate but the king actually decreed that they should all be considered full princesses. They do not like each other nor do they seem to like anyone else.  Although there are twelve princesses, I only have a vague idea about three of them; I don't think the rest even got names, making them indistinct presences. I know it would be too much for me to have twelve princesses with distinct personalities in addition to all of the other characters but if I didn't know the story, I would think there were only three.

Another thing was the politics. The small kingdom of Sylvania is facing multiple threats as outsiders fail to understand the curse and covet the land. The discussion about these threats was BORING! I tuned out whenever it talked about the neighboring lands and how they're threatening the country in various ways.

Although I have a lot of complaints about this book and it may seem like I didn't like it, I loved the little tweaks on the traditional story and the explanation of how that story came to be the prevailing one. I loved the insertion of Hildegard as Revelka's patron saint because of her interest in herbs too. However in the end I must recommend Entwined by Heather Dixon over this story as its rich story and atmosphere created better princesses, strong family ties, sweeter romances, and overall a more pleasing twist on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."


  1. I agree about the uncomfortableness of Reveka's relationship. The age difference is...weird. I usually age characters in my head though, so when I was reading the age difference didn't stand out as much to me.

  2. Huge bummer you didn't like this one, I don't know if I'd appreciate reading about a lot of political jarbon either. I've heard some good thing about Entwined, I'm a little put off by it though since its a long one. I may just listen to it on audio. Its good to know you enjoyed it. Great review. I appreciate you pointing out the good and the bad.


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