February 03, 2009

Princess Ben

By Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Princess Benevolence is no ordinary princess. She doesn't have a willowy form, likes to play in the mud, and has few proper manners. But when her mother, prince father, and her uncle the king are all unexpectedly killed--perhaps by their archenemy Drachensbett who has long coveted the small nation of Montagne--the queen regent Sophia takes it upon herself to make Ben into a proper princess. Ben takes it poorly and acts out so badly Sophia locks her into a tower room every night. But there, Ben discovers a secret room with a book of spells and soon is fully involved in learning to become somewhat of a witch. When events cause her to flee unexpectedly, she crash lands in the middle of a force of Drachensbett troops and is soon forced to hide her identity as the lowliest of beings, a mere shepherd boy. She also has to deal with the heir of Drachensbett himself, the insufferable Prince Florian. Can this unlikely princess with a few magic tricks in her spellbag find her way back to save her country from invasion? Filled with allusions to many a familiar fairy tale, Ben is a heroine that is far from perfect, but whose stubborn feelings will resonate with many a reader. A completely enjoyable fantasy with an unpredictably happy ending.

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