Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock
Age Group: Young Adult
Length: 344 pages
Benevolence is not your typical princess- and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle's highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire.... But Ben's private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from foul tyranny?
Review: I was disappointed in this book. I love creative retellings of fairy tales (I adore Gail Carson Levine), so I was looking forward to reading this new version of Sleeping Beauty. And though I did enjoy the end of the book, there were a lot of issues with the first 3/4 or so.
The main issue I had was with the characters. For the first part of the book, she came across as whiny, spoiled, and unfriendly, which I think may have been done on purpose. However, it went a little too far and I found myself strongly disliking the character until she finally grew up at the end of the book. And once she did grow up, the book was much more enjoyable. I just wish that it had happened much earlier in the book. Her love interest, too, was unpleasant for almost the entire book until he finally admits his undying love for Ben. Wait, what?
The actual re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty was what I was looking for, though. It was interesting and quirky and clever, which are all important qualities in something like this. The minor characters all got personalities that seemed realistic, too, and I liked reading about them, particularly Queen Sophia, who's Ben detests but I rather liked.
Overall, this book had very good ideas but poor execution. I wouldn't recommend this book, but I'm open to something else by the author with more likable characters.
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