Friday, December 14, 2012

{Review} PRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOODS by Jessica Day George

Missed PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL and/or PRINCESS OF GLASS?
Right now, buy either title for your nook, Kindle, etc. for only $1.59!  
That's a crazy sale, bookworms, but one that every fairy tale lover should be hopping on!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

"YOU PROMISED US BRIDES!"
"I grow weary of your whining, Kestilan," said the King Under Stone.  The king, who had once been Rionin, third-born son of Wolfram von Aue, gripped the arms of his throne, and the black stone made a thin cracking noise.
"Do you see?" Kestilan pointed to the throne, though no fracture was visible.  "Our home crumbles around us! Something must be done!"
(Page 1, US hardcover first edition)

I'm a big fan of Jessica Day George, and was so excited when it was announced that she'd release one final book in her fairy tale "series" centering around the twelve sisters that make up the tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  I thought their tale was a stand-alone when reading PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL, then became excited when a companion stand-alone novel featuring the middle-sister, PRINCESS OF GLASS, came out and incorporated Cinderella.  (My Review) I thought that was it, and then was surprised yet again with the announcement that there would be one more title, PRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOODS, promising to tie up loose ends while entwining with the tale of Little Red Riding Hood.  I've been anticipating this one all year, and am so excited to post a review during the book's launch week!

New fans to the series can jump into PRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOODS without reading the first two books.  Day George does a great job recapping past events so that first time readers (or returning readers who haven't read the series in a while) know who's who and what's been happening, bringing everyone up to speed.  The novel centers around Petunia, the youngest of the twelve sisters.  Through her, we find out how her sisters are doing and seeing them living "Happily Ever After" as she carves her own path in life.  There has always been creepiness revolving around the sisters courtesy of the King Under Stone, who forced the girls to spend most of their years dancing.  Even though he has been defeated, his sons still love, and their Kingdom is still crumbling.  The twelve sons still need twelve brides able to walk beneath the sun to bear them sons and save their kingdom.  Their eyes are still set on the sisters, even the married ones.  They bring Petunia and her sisters to their world through dreams, which become more deadly, and only True Love can bring the girls back after they're captured for real.

PRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOODS read more Robin Hood than Little Red Riding Hood to me (and what a clever pun those two make side-by-side there!), which I hadn't been anticipating. I've wanted this book since before there was a real summary, so I only knew about the Little Red Riding Hood connection. I didn't even know that it intentionally had a Robin Hood one until pasting the summary below for you all just now.  The book has a more natural tilt toward the one tale over the other.  The Little Red Riding Hood aspect, which gives the book its cover image, feels forced in comparison.

My favorite aspect of this novel was the unique lore centering around the King Under Stone and his brothers.  When I first saw the tale outlined, I actually stopped reading and started googling the tale because I didn't know it and wanted to know what fairy tale mix I was reading now.  I wasn't.  The lore is unique and created by Day George.  I really liked the way even their villainous roots were tied to a tale, making the book feel more complete, as well as the series as a whole.  This new twist also made the villains more unique; otherwise, elements would have felt too much like they were taken from past books.  This new lore was enough to keep me intrigued and wanting to know more.

That being said, this was probably also my least favorite of the three books.  It felt more rushed, had insta-love with little page time devoted to developing the relationship, and was less immersed in fairy tales than its predecessors.  Granted, Day George was pregnant as she wrote this, and nursing an infant while editing, so she probably didn't have as much time or energy to commit to the final book.  This book also read more tween-ish, bridging the gap between her middle-grade novels and her teen ones, and in this way, didn't have the same feel as the prior two books.  There was also less character development, it seemed, because it relied heavily on knowing readers had read the previous books and didn't need to know the supporting cast as well this time around.  Then again, there are a lot more characters taking up page time, which leaves less pages for developmental purposes.  To begin with, twelve princesses!  Petunia is perhaps my least favorite of the princesses; I cared for her less than I did the main characters in the first two books, perhaps because she was too naive.  On the other hand, Oliver felt more well-developed.  I really enjoyed his backstory, as well as the way he had his own tale to play out.  His motivations rang true, and I really liked the way he was disguised.

I'm not saying this is a weak book, because it's certainly not.  It's still much better than a lot of other books out there.  It just isn't my favorite novel by Day George.  I'll still be buying a copy when it comes out in paperback (Because all my other books by her are in paperback, and whether they're hardcover/paperback/ebook/what-have-you, they MUST match!) and letting it sit proudly on my Fairy Tale Shelf.  It was still an enjoyable read, and in some ways, I think first-time readers to the series or readers in the actual age demographic this was written for will get more out of it than repeat world-visitors in some ways, but I think the repeaters will still enjoy themselves.  There are sentences and minor characters brought in/back just for us, an inside-joke.  I love when we see such moments in fiction and go, "Oh, yeah!" after forgetting for so long.  For those of us who love seeing what happens after Happily Ever After, it's nice to see how lives continue, twist, and change, and was a true ending to the series in this aspect.
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This series has some beautiful covers.  I want all of these dresses!  ...And I don't even like wearing dresses.  I just stare and stare and stare.  I do wish the dress on this book hadn't been covered up by the red cape, but that's my only complaint, lol.  You can still tell that it's gorgeous, and the texture for that cape is beautiful as well.

Just looking at that cover, I would pick this up instantly to see what it was about even if I'd never heard of Jessica Day George or this series before!
  ~*~
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  PRINCESS OF THE SILVER WOODS
Author: Jessica Day George
Release Date: Out Dec. 11, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Received: Borrowed
SUMMARY:

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. 


The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

5 comments:

  1. Lots of details in this review, ones you wouldn't usually find. I enjoyed reading it and finding out a lot more about the series. In fact, I was so excited I bought the book one and two on the special you brought my attention to. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you bought the first two because I mentioned that! I almost forgot to do so, too!

      I can't wait to hear your thoughts!! You should read them during Fairy Tale Fortnight 2013, winkwink/nudgenudge!

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  2. I loved Princess at the Midnight Ball, but have yet to read Princess of Glass or this latest Silver Woods. I appreciate your honesty in the review. I've found myself struggling to enjoy middle grade fiction lately and I suspect it's because I'm not the intended audience. I still think I'd enjoy finishing out this trilogy by Jessica Day George, but I may have to get myself in a nostalgic, kid-like mood.

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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    1. This review was hard, because I still liked it, but I didn't love it like the others. I had trouble structuring this one!

      It's older than middle grade, but not at the same teen level as the other two. It's more "tween" and "in-between."

      I've noticed that, too. There are MG titles I love, but others that just...I'm not their audience, sadly.

      Recent MGs loves have been LIESL AND PO by Lauren Oliver, THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell, WINTERLING by Sarah Prineas, ORDINARY MAGIC by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, and THE WIDE-AWAKE PRINCESS by E.D. Baker. (I still need to read the last two by Rick Riordan or the debut by Chris Colfer, eep!)

      Err...yeah, all fairy tales or great fantasies! LOL

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  3. Wow, you're right, we are in total agreement! I didn't mention it, but I do also agree with what you said about the different fairy tales it's based on. I saw the Robin Hood connection much clearer and more naturally than the LRRH one. Very nicely and thoroughly reviewed :)

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Thanks for taking the time to stop and comment! I appreciate it more than I can say. I try to respond to each one!