Mythological Mondays is a feature I created to spotlight books brimming with--you guessed it--mythology! I adore this sub-genre and can't wait to share my love with all of my fellow bookworms! This feature isn't just focused on novel reviews; it may also include interviews, looks at original mythological tales, etc. Please feel free to do this with me! If you guys ever do a mythological feature and want to join this and snag my lovely mermaid, I would LOVE to see the feature. I’ve even included a Linkbox for you. It doesn’t have to be Greek mythology, or even mythology per say. It can be mermaids, unicorns, or heck, even fairy tales (because I’m too lazy to do a separate fairy tale feature…). It doesn’t even have to be every Monday. I’m sure there will be Mondays when I skip, too. ^_^
You might be asking yourself, “Bonnie, why are you featuring THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell for Mythological Mondays? It’s about THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES!” This is where you’d be WRONG. Well, maybe not wrong, exactly, but not right, either. The summary of this book is very much about THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES…and if you see the book in person, the flap talks about how this classic tale is mashed up with another well-loved story, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. But nowhere do they mention that this ALSO features elements of the PERSEPHONE AND HADES tale. Yes, you read that right. If GLEE can get away with mashing up a modern-day hit like Beyoncé’s “Halo” with 80s pop-hit “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves and have it sound good…REALLY good…then why can’t a double-dose of fairy tale mashed up with a swish of mythology also do the trick? Because, bookworms, this recipe WORKS. It’s delicious and perfect, the right mix of sweet and salty. If you told me the ingredients beforehand, I would have said that such a story would have never worked…and I would have been wrong, wrong, wrong. THE PRINCESS CURSE is the epitome of a “Why didn’t I think of that?” novel.
So what, exactly, is THE PRINCESS CURSE? The novel centers around a girl named Reveka who is an apprentice to the castle’s herbalist. The castle where she works harbors twelve princesses who dance their shoes to pieces each night. There is a huge reward for anyone who can solve the mystery of where they go, but anyone caught spying on the princesses at night either “disappears” or falls into a sleep from which they never awaken. Reveka is desperate to find out where the princesses go so that she can win the dowry and go off to a nunnery to be a herbalist. For all that the book immediately sounds like a new version of THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES, this story only encompasses half the book. For once Reveka manages to follow the princesses and find out what is happening, something HORRIBLE happens…something that changes her life forever. THE PRINCESS CURSE shifts gears and delves deeper, following Reveka on a dangerous journey of her own that I don’t really want to spoil for you.
I adored Reveka and think Haskell is a brilliant new writer. I want more books by her and would love to see more stories set in this world (but the publisher will only request more if THE PRINCESS CURSE sells well, hint hint HINT). I wasn’t ready to leave when the last page was turned. It’s funny; when I first heard about THE PRINCESS CURSE and saw the book’s awesome cover, it was an instant must-read. When I found out that the book would be middle-grade, I decided to borrow it rather than buy it, thinking it might be like other middle-grade fairy tale re-tellings where I’d rather own them in paperback and not pay the hardcover price. As soon as I finished reading this, however, I knew that I needed a copy of my own and had to buy it right away! The novel is middle-grade due to the fact that Reveka is only thirteen. It has a hint of teen in it, though, touching on one word in particular that a child won’t understand…and hopefully won’t look up in the dictionary. Because the book skews younger, there isn’t as much of a romantic element as I like in my fairy tales, but it’s open-ended enough that we might get a lot more in a sequel…which I want to read right NOW!
This cover…Oh, bookworms, this COVER! It’s gorgeous, is it not? I love illustrated covers. The illustration is by Jason Chan, whom I adore. He’s also done work for the Théâtre Illuminata trilogy by Lisa Manchev (EYES LIKE STARS, PERCHANCE TO DREAM, SO SILVER BRIGHT), THE GIRL WITH SILVER EYES by Willo Davis Roberts, THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY by Victoria Forester (reviewed here), THE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter, and so much more! I always see a book with his style and fall in love, then realize it’s him!
I really like the way he drew Reveka, giving her an herb basket to showcase what’s most important to her. The coloring is FANTASTIC and it all blends so nicely together. Plus, there’s, you know, atmosphere. Jason Chan and THE PRINCESS CURSE for the win!
[This entry is part of The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]