September 23, 2011

review: the princess curse

The Princess Curse – Merrie Haskell

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling—and downright silly—curse. Ridiculous though the curse may be, whoever breaks it will win a handsome reward.
Sharp-witted Reveka, an herbalist’s apprentice, has little use for princesses, with their snooty attitudes and impractical clothing. She does, however, have use for the reward money, which could buy her a position as a master herbalist.
But curses don’t like to be broken, and Reveka’s efforts lead her to deeper mysteries. As she struggles to understand the curse, she meets a shadowy stranger (as charming as he is unsettling) and discovers a blighted land in desperate need of healing. Soon the irreverent apprentice is faced with a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?


The Princess Curse is a fantastic read, mixing the fairy tales “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “Beauty and the Beast” and a little bit of “Sleeping Beauty”, complete with dragons, underworld princes, and a nation on the verge of war. I love reimagined fairy tales, so I knew I would enjoy this book when I first heard of it. And the best part is the fact the main character is not anyone particularly important. She’s not a princess, or a warrior, or a witch. She’s an herbalist.

Reveka is a thirteen year old apprentice who wants to own her own herbary. With the reward money promised to the woman who breaks the princesses’ spell, she can take a step toward the higher learning of herbalism. But the curse isn’t easy to break, and everyone who tries to break the spell either disappears forever or falls into an endless sleep. Wanting to help, Reveka tries to find a way to wake the sleepers and break the curse, and as she fails and fails again using ordinary herbalism, she learns that maybe she needs to fight magic with magic.

The one problem that I did have with the story was the ending. It left me wanting more, and not in a good way. One character in particular always hints at his background, but it’s never explained. And with no promise of a sequel, it’s likely readers will never discover his mysterious past. That irks me to no end. I loved the story, but on that one aspect, I felt gipped.

But if you like fairy tales, you’ll like The Princess Curse.

Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (September 6, 2011)

Rating: ★★★★☆

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