Monday, July 7, 2008

Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Princess Ben (short for Benevolence) parents die. She is moved to the castle to live with her aunt, who is ruling until Ben reaches the age majority. They do not get along. Queen Sophia is all reserve and restraint and Ben is indulgence and immaturity. Her refusal to learn the queenly arts ends up getting Ben locked in a tower at night. This horrific punishment actually turns out to be a boon. It is there that Ben discovers the true magic of the castle. Magic that is hers by birthright.

Ben begins to master her magic – staying up all night practicing, scurrying through secret passages, not being smart enough to be subtle so that the castle inhabitants won’t notice anything strange is going on. During the day she tries her darnedest to irritate everyone who is attempting to educate her in queenly behavior. I found this tiresome to read, but truthfully there were several good reasons why she was so bratty. She is, after all, a teen, she just lost her parents, and she feels completely out of control of her future.

Ben is no D.J. (from Dairy Queen), she isn’t as loveable, funny, or as well developed a character. Instead, I found this more of a plot driven book where I wasn’t as engaged by the characters, but still wanted to know the resolution (which in true fairy tale form is quite nicely wrapped up). Publishers Weekly called it the “poor man’s Gail Carson Levine” and I thought that was quite fitting. All the elements, but lacking some of the magic.

The YaYaYas reviewed this and also have compiled a slew of links to other reviews .

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