{Review} FROGKISSER! by Garth Nix

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

  T WAS THE middle of an ice storm, the wind howling across the frozen moat to hurl hailstones against the walls of the castle and in its tightly shuttered windows. But despite wind and hail and the full chill panoply of winter, it was deliciously warm in the Great Hall.

All four fireplaces were burning high, loaded up with double handfulls of small fir cones atop the great year-end logs. The scent of the cones was like incense, delicate wreaths of smoke leaving the fires to swirl above the wriggling mound of puppies that occupied the most comfortable place of all, on the carpet in front of the biggest fire.

There were at least two dozen puppies in the constantly moving pile, and one young human. A princess, though you'd never know it to look at her, since she was dressed like one of the garden boy. Unlike the puppies, she was sound asleep.

(Page 3, US Hardcover Edition)

    "Well, it might prove useful," Anya said stiffly. "Knowledge is always useful, even if . . . if it is not immediately apparent how it will be useful."

~Princess Anya, FROGKISSER

I've been reading tales by Garth Nix since I was twelve years old. Back in the day, before the local libraries really had a TEEN section, one had to wander through the children's department on a hopeful quest. Every book needed to be considered carefully, the first chapter leafed through as you considered whether it was a book for a third grader or something that suited your sixth grade mind. When you found an author that wrote what you needed you were loyal to them, coming back again and again for that hit of a magical world that felt like it was written just for you. Garth Nix and Tamora Pierce quite literally built the foundation of my reading as a preteen, and everything I love out of my fantasy and adventure books was based on their work, everything I read now subtly compared to how those tales made me feel.

As if under a spell cast by the villainous sorcerer in today's book recommendation, I knew that I was going to love FROGKISSER! by Garth Nix. I just wasn't prepared for how MUCH I was going to love it. With whimsical chapter titles like "This Never Happens to the Other Assasins", this tale has bits and pieces of the magic that made me love the classic fairytales when I was younger, while adding a vibrantly humorous undertone and characters that feel much more human and less 2D. I laughed out loud, at least once every chapter. While the humor is palpable and constant throughout the story, FROGKISSER! wraps itself around some serious concepts. Tyranny, apathy from rulers, that coming of age confusion when a person has to decide whether they are ready to expand their hearts and consider the good of all the people around them instead of their own needs. My favorite feature in the storyline, without providing any spoilers, is the presence of an actual, magically charged and suitable Bill of Rights, which had fallen into disuse in the land.

Princess Anya could be considered a reluctant heroine. Actually, at the beginning of the tale she expresses her reluctance quite undeniably. She wants to sit in the castle's library and read, studying up on sorcery and telling herself that she could learn the craft without being anything like her stepstepfather Duke Rikard. There is no part of her that wants to journey on a Quest to transform her elder sister's poor beau from endangered frog back to human. The further into her journey she gets, the more transfigured souls she comes upon, and Anya is not immediately ready to bear that mantle of responsibility. Her character growth is slow, subtle, thoughts creeping into her mind that she doesn't necessarily want to have, and that makes her all the more real to me. How often do we as people know the right thing to do but kick our feet up because we don't want to want to do the more taxing right thing?

Anya's companions in the story are colorful and utterly fantastic. Ardent, the royal dog was probably my favorite, and he's tying with Anya for first place regarding my overall favorite character in the story. There's Shrub, a thief in training who has been turned into a giant newt, good wizards, neither good nor bad witches, a band of robin hood -esque thieves who only steal from the poor to give to the rich. Basically elements of everything you ever loved in a fantasy or a fairytale is represented in this storyline, all mingled with thoughtful undertones about standing up for what is right.

If you're in the mood for an intensely amazing fairytale/fantasy that transcends age barriers and proves itself to be an enjoyable journey for all readers, then I highly recommend FROGKISSER! by Garth Nix, for you!.

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG (Well . . . there's a lot of kissing. But not of a romantic sort.)
Language: PG ( No cursing.)
Violence: PG (A few fight scenes but the action is greatly toned down and there's nothing terribly graphic.)
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I was instantly in love with this cover! The gold eyes of the green frogs and then the princely frog all in gold are whimsical and shimmering and they give the book a palpable air of magic. And if you take off the dust jacket there's a frog in the right hand corner of the book, which is a delightful surprise!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Garth Nix
Release Date: February 28th, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic 
Received: Purchased

The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic. 

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.