3 - 3.5 stars (It would have been 4 if not for being incomplete)
One of the first debut authors this year that I have truly enjoyed.
At first I was a bit dismayed by yet another
12 Dancing Princesses tale - not that I dislike the tale or genre, for I am an avid fan of the latter and enjoy the former, but I had just had Entwined, another debut author retelling the same fairytale, not to mention four other versions in the past two years. There is a host of tales to retell and I am quite eager to see some of the more obscure ones worked on other than Cinderella
, 12 Dancing Princesses
or Beauty and the Beast.
However, The Princess Curse is unique enough to stand out. Firstly, the protagonist is not one of the twelve titular princesses, but an apprentice herbalist, motherless, raised in a convent by some pretty joyless nuns and now living with her super-strict killjoy ex-military - turned - gardener father who has quite the obsession with her Not Lying and enjoys being cryptic with the Queen.
Reveka, our heroine, is great because she is both outside the classic tale but very involved.
The curse affects the whole kingdom politically, what with the threatening invasion, angry neighbors whose sons have fallen to the curse or disappeared entirely, etc. Everyone wants to break this curse. Men, including princes and nobility, disappear, while others fall into an unwaking sleep that eventually succumbs to death. Reveka is trying to break the spell so she can have the reward and go join a convent and be an herbalist, but when things become a tad more personal, she chooses to marry the king of the underworld herself, thus ending the curse.
But she refuses to eat, and thus has not truly taken her place as Queen and has yet to actually marry. The underworld too is sick and dying. Thonos needs its Queen and its King is shrouded in mystery, trapped between forms and only recently taking this "post".
So, take Beauty and the Beast, Persephone and Hades, 12 Dancing Princesses, mix liberally with some interesting Greek mythology and a vaguely Eastern European setting and it is a wholly engaging story, but lacking in a well-rounded depth for the peripheral characters and resolution for several main issues brought up about Thonos, Reveka's place as Queen, her relationship with Dragos/King, who he was, how the Princess and daddy dearest knew so much and what happens next?!
Still, the curse was broken, so that is that.
I liked the style, just a tighter, more focused and complete storyline next, please and thank you.
Liked Reveka - her attitude and humor. All of it. She was intelligent, determined, brave and curious, passionate. Knew what she wanted and was focused. No daydreaming about starpping werewolf lads or swooning at the mention of handsome princes for her.
Recommended, esp. for fairytale enthusiasts.