THE PRINCESS CURSE by MERRIE HASKELL
(based on a review copy)
At first I feared this book may not live up to the glowing quotes I read from other authors. Marketed as a twist on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, the story feels very familiar for the first few chapters. The sole twist appears to be our protagonist (and, as most readers will expect, the princesses’ eventual savior), a young girl named Reveka - as well as her unexpected interest in herbs.
However, the novel really hits its stride about a third of the way through, when it becomes apparent that this is a much twistier version than I anticipated. The plot actually melds two favorite fairy tales and the second (one of my personal favorites) becomes glaringly apparent about halfway into the book, about the same time when the story veers off into delightfully unexpected and compelling directions.
I struggled a little reconciling Reveka’s young fourteen years of age with her maturity and the decisions she makes, but I don’t fault the story for that. If anything, her youth adds to classic fairy tale tropes and it’s nevertheless pleasing to encounter a young girl with so much agency against such overwhelming odds.
You can add me to this novel’s list of admirers.