Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Like I said earlier - month of the YA. I read an uncharacteristic amount of YA novels in January, probably the result of me following a lot of YA bloggers on Twitter. While I'm in no way opposed to reading YA, it isn't my usual choice. However, it's been a fun trip backwards on memory lane.

I read Princess of Glass after stumbling across a review for it. I've always had quite a weakness for fairy tales - Gail Carson Levine was one of my favorite authors when I was younger - and I thought it would be fun to read another fairy tale spinoff of Cinderella. I ended up using this book as my January "Just For Fun" read.

Princess of Glass takes place in a slightly altered Europe, in which many of the kingdoms, concerned about war breaking out and hoping to make new alliances, send their young heirs and heiresses on a royal exchange program, hoping their princes and princesses will come back having formed advantageous attachments. Princess Poppy is one such princess, sent from her kingdom of Westfalin to Breton. She soon becomes good friends with Prince Christian of the Danelaw. However, an unfamiliar young lady begins arriving at balls, copying other girls dresses and capturing the attention of Prince Christian.

Princess of Glass
is a spin-off of Cinderella, but it is told from a very different angle. Cinderella is not the prince's first choice, and the fairy godmother is a nasty, vengeful old woman who pours blistering molten glass on young ladies' feet. I appreciated the originality in the plot - I think really that is the greatest challenge of a fairy tale spin-off. How can the author keep to the outlines of the beloved story, while managing to create something novel enough to hold the interest of their readers? Jessica Day George has done a good job of maintaining that balance.

However, the characters left me wanting a bit more. Poppy, the main character, was interesting and quirky. She preferred gambling at the balls to dancing, and when the mysterious Cinderella character begins to weasel her way into the prince's affections, Poppy wants to protect her, not fling a handbag at her. However, the rest of the characters seemed a bit flat. Prince Christian doesn't have much personality. He is handsome and nice, but I can't really think of anything else to describe him. He also seemed pretty weak in the story. Granted, he was under a magical enchantment. However, while I appreciated that Poppy was a take-charge girl, I still would have liked a hero that acted like a hero. It was hard for me to understand why Poppy was attracted to him.

I should also mention that this book is a sequel. The first book, Princess of the Midnight Ball, (which I have not read) is a retelling of the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which I am not actually very familiar with. While I understood Princess of Glass without reading the first book, the events of Princess of the Midnight Ball were referred to frequently, and I think I would probably have enjoyed this book more if I had read the first one. I will probably read it at some point.

Overall, this book was a fun but light read. I was left wanting a bit more from the story and the characters, and I did roll my eyes a few times at some corny scenes. However, I thought the reimagining of Cinderella was clever and this book will be enjoyable for younger girls.

Readability - Easy read.
Aesthetics/literary merit - 3
Plot - 4
Characters - 2
Personal Response - 3.5
Overall: 3

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