By Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Houghton Mifflin, 2008. 344 p. Young Adult
In this fresh fairy tale, Princess Benevolence, known as Ben, starts off as a slightly spoiled, self-indulgent girl who has no interest in her royal inheritance. When her parents and the king, her uncle, are killed, her aunt Sophia becomes queen and Ben has no choice but to be groomed as heir to the throne. During this painful period, Ben discovers something magical about herself and her castle room that proves a wonderful and liberating diversion during her internment. This discovery leads to Ben's final blossoming into maturity as well as helping her find the strength she needs to step into her rightful role as royal heir. With adventures, magic, and a touch of romance, this unlikely princess is sure to please.
I was very delighted with this book as a fairy tale. I liked that the princess was atypical in her gluttonous nature and rotund physique; it added an interesting and unusual element to a princess tale. I really enjoyed Ben's narrative voice and felt the author truly drew in readers with her frank and authentic writing. The magical element was a great touch, layering well with the story as a whole and proving key to the plot. All in all, this was a fun, satisfying book to read whether you're looking for a princess story/fairy tale or just a coming-of-age tale.