Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: The Princess Spy (Dickerson)

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AUTHOR: Melanie Dickerson
SERIES: YA Romance Fairy Tales, book 5
PUBLISHER: Zondervan
PUBLICATION DATE: November 4, 2014
ISBN: 9780310730989
PAGES: 352
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: historical fiction, Christian
SETTING: Hagenheim, Germany--1413
GIVE IT TO: upper-ES, MS
SUMMARY: Approaching the age of marriage, 18-year old Princess Margaretha of Hagenheim is considering a proposal from the oddly quirky Lord Claybrook. When an unconscious stranger needs medical attention, Princess Margaretha is the only person in town who speaks his language. As the boy heals, he tells Margaretha that Lord Claybrook is a dangerous murderer responsible for the death of a friend in his homeland. Determined to prove the boy wrong, Margaretha agrees to spy on Claybrook and his men.

WHAT I LIKED: I love Melanie Dickerson's books! This is the third I've read, and once again, I had a difficult time putting the book down. While I didn't love this one as much as I loved The Fairest Beauty, it is definitely one I will recommend to my fairytale-loving library girls.

I liked Margaretha's growth as a character and the fact that she knows people think she is too talkative. Being overly talkative is not a terrible thing, but it does show Margaretha's naivety. She trusts too easily and does not tend to look too deeply into the motives of others. I think many young readers will see themselves in Margaretha's character.

It's clean. Clean enough for elementary libraries.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Well, it didn't bother me so much really, but some will be annoyed at the amount of prayer in The Princess Spy. This IS Christian fiction, so prayer is a given. Characters ask God for help frequently, and they feel peace simply because they know their fate is in God's hands. That's all fine and good, but it takes away from the story's suspense. Because their situations always improved when they asked for God's help, I knew if the characters asked for help, that particular request would come to pass.

Underdeveloped, stereotypical characters. Colin is heroic and brave. Margaretha is chatty and kind. Claybrook is evil and self-serving. The king is clueless and never around when needed. Valten is a loving, protective father. Gisela is a submissive, pregnant wife. Yes, this book has a fairy tale feel to it--characters are often one-dimensional in fairy tales--but they don't have to be.

Other reviewers say this book is based on "The Frog Prince" because Colin wears those green clothes and is called "Frogboy" at the beginning. And because he gets Margaretha's bracelet out of the well. If it's based on that, it's an extremely loose interpretation. I only saw it as a possibility because that's what other reviewers are saying.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Cute, clean, and great for girls who love to read about princesses and castles. It is Christian fiction, and the characters pray often.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I'll get it. The Fairest Beauty and The Captive Maiden are popular in my library, and I am certain this one will be also.

READALIKES: The Two Princesses of Bamarre (Levine); Once Upon A Marigold (Ferris); The Sweetest Spell (Selfors)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 3/5--points off for pacing and underdeveloped characters
  • Creativity: 3/5--very similar to many other fairy tale books for middle grade girls
  • Characters: 2/5--stereotypes
  • Engrossing: 4/5--starts off a bit slow, but once it's good, it's good
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5--best for preteens and younger teens
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: very mild; chaste kisses, hand-holding
  • Violence: mild; murder (not bloody); swordplay
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; poisoning of wine

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