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The False PrincessThe False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable. A few things I particularly liked were Sinda’s growth as a character and the way magic was handled. Sometimes the magic in fantasy books feels arbitrary, as though the author constantly changed the rules to suit the action. Here, it felt thought-out in advance and fairly organic. I appreciated that Sinda dealt with the dramatic changes in her position in a realistic way – passive acceptance, then a bit of depression, then floundering around as she tries to figure out what to do next, then a gradual gain in confidence and competence.

I only had one minor quibble, plot-wise, where I expected a plot twist that didn’t come. Otherwise, it felt pleasantly complex without being too convoluted or slow. It’s not quite a page-turner, until the end, but it kept my interest throughout.

This is one of those books hovering between children’s and young adult – the characters are teens and there’s some romance, but it’s all completely appropriate for middle schoolers. It would probably appeal to fans of fairy tale retellings.

Source: my public library

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September 2011

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