Ahoy there me mateys! So I have a wee bit of an obsession with Garth Nix and his wonderful stories. I love him so much that he was the featured author in me first broadside. I have read 25 of his novels. So when I heard he was writing this fairy tale I had to have it. Plus awesome cover:
In his “Acknowledgments” of this novel, Mr. Nix claims inspiration from “the works of Lloyd Alexander, Nicholas Stuart Gray, Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, and T.H. White.” I don’t know Nicholas Stuart Gray’s work (must remedy) but I can certainly see nods to all of the other authors he listed in the story.
The story centers around Anya who is the youngest princess of the kingdom of Trallonia. One of her sister’s suitors is transformed into a frog by their evil sorcerer step-stepfather. In order to stop the tears and hysterics, Anya promises to turn him back into a human. This inadvertently becomes way more complicated than originally planned thus leading Anya off on a Quest!
The subversive nature of the story is what I loved about it. Favorites include the use of the magic carpet, Gerald the Heralds, otters transformed into people, how the army is formed, having step-stepparents, snow white, etc. I very much enjoyed Anya as a character. And the frogs were just delightful.
The only downside to this novel for me was the pacing. It is a very episodic story where the heroine gets a lot of help from people she just happens to meet along the way. Makes more sense after reading the acknowledgements but I would have preferred Anya to show a lot more initiative. Of course Anya doesn’t really show initiative in the beginning and is a very reluctant hero who grows into her role. But unlike many of me other Nix reads, this didn’t zing.
I am okay with that lack of zing. This was a solid story with a lot of fun ideas and characters. Mr. Nix continues to remain an auto-buy author. And apparently he has a new novel coming out in October this year. Arrrr!!!
The author’s website has this to say about the novel:
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.
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