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Sonderbooks Book Review of

Princess Ben

by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

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Princess Ben
Being a Wholly Truthful Account of Her Various Discoveries and Misadventures, Recounted to the Best of Her Recollection, in Four Parts

by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Review Posted October 11, 2008.
Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2008. 344 pages.
Starred Review.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2008: #4 Fantasy Teen Fiction

I dearly loved Princess Ben! This is exactly my favorite sort of book -- an original fairy tale, with princes and princesses and magic and danger and enchantments and adventure and romance.

Princess Ben is no damsel in distress who waits around to be saved by the prince! (In fact, there's a delightful fairy tale reversal toward the end. I dare say no more!)

At the start, Princess Benevolence's parents meet a dreadful fate, with circumstances pointing to assassination at the order of the neighboring, or rather surrounding kingdom of Drachensbett. As in so many other princess tales, Ben must now learn to be a proper princess, under the stern direction of her aunt the Queen.

Naturally, there are also plans to marry Ben off in the service of diplomacy. However, matters get complicated when Ben discovers a secret passageway to a magic room and a book of magic. She begins learning how to perform magic and use it to serve her own purposes, like get some decent food.

But as in any fairy tale, before the end the fate of the kingdom lies in Princess Ben's hands. The reader can't help but root for things to end Happily Ever After.

Ben's a delightful character, a princess with spunk and a weight problem. The plot is nicely twisted to keep things interesting. Utterly charming and a whole lot of fun. Not a book that's easy to stop reading.