Thursday, July 24, 2008

Princess Ben

I love it when the library has lots of requested books ready for me. They arrived just in time for my summer read-a-thon!! I can't remember what led me to some of them but I love it when I crack one open and fall head over heels for the story!

At first I was a little worried Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock might turn out to be just another feisty princess story, and I've read a lot of them this summer. All the ingredients were there: unconventional princess, arrogant prince, horrible queen, locked tower, fire-breathing dragon, magical prophecies - you know, the same old fairy tale stuff! Fortunately this story kept me on my toes. Ms. Murdock manages to take familiar fairy tale elements and turn them upside down. See if you can find the story elements to other fairy tales hidden inside.

Oh, and the voice! Ben has an appealing wit, done in a style that sounds like it was written with a quill pen on parchment. She even sent me to the dictionary a time or two or three. Words like abstruse, benignant, sagacity and obfuscated are not in my normal vernacular yet each one was the perfect fit for this voice of the character.

Favorite quotes:

"Nay, Your Highness, you'd best stay clear of those two. Some folks have pasts that prevent a future." p. 267

"Sophia sniffed. 'Young people forever believe that kingdoms are made on the field of battle. Believe me, dear princess, they survive or perish not through warfare but through gestures and dances and incidental conversations. As you desire the preservation of your country, you must act on this reality.'" p. 301

Catherine Gilbert Murdock is the author of two other books; Dairy Queen and The Off Season. I have not read either book but have heard about them. I guess the fact that I come to the author later is a blessing - I wasn't expecting a certain style or character. What I got was a readable escape and a terrific twist. While I won't liken her totally to Shannon Hale (goddess of all fairy tales well written!) I will note that Ms. Murdock is right up there!! 4.5/5.0

I wonder what my next book holds??

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