PRINCESS OF THE WILD SEA, by Megan Frazer Blakemore, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Jan. 24, 2023, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
A young princess discovers heroes come in all shapes and sizes in Megan Frazer Blakemore’s Princess of the Wild Sea.
A curse will fall . . .
A hero will rise . . .
Princess Harbor Rose is cursed. She’s lived her whole life hidden away on a remote island with her magical aunts, following all the rules for being a princess. Now it is only one more year until thirteenth birthday, when a hero will finally arrive to save her from her curse.
But as with any story, there are two sides . . . and the curse told of much more than a single princess’s uncertain fate. It told of a dangerous foe rooted in powerful magic. It told of a terrible war that could destroy everything if a young hero didn’t arrive in time. It told of a magic imbued with hope that could save everyone, but only if they believe.
With her beloved kingdom and island at grave risk, Harbor Rose has a choice: Should she wait for the hero, or take matters into her own hands? —Synopsis provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
At first, Princess of the Wild Sea might seem familiar. At its core is the tale of Sleeping Beauty, but the classic fairy tale merely serves as the basic framework for what becomes a nuanced and compelling new story.
At the center of the story is Harbor, a plucky young princess who lives on a remote island waiting for her hero to come and save her from a curse that will see her fall into a magical sleep. As she prepares for the eventuality of the curse and her 13th birthday, Harbor also begins to question the world and magic around her. And when the curse actually comes to fruition, it turns out her curse is just a precursor to something much worse.
Harbor is exactly the sort of protagonist you’d want at the middle of such a tale. She’s clever and adventurous and has to work through some of her own flaws. Her surrounding cast of characters are equally as flawed in delightfully warm and understandable ways.
In fact, even though there’s a curse at the center of Princess of the Wild Sea, author Megan Frazer Blakemore’s warm prose creates a comforting undercurrent throughout even the more dangerous, darker moments. And — without giving too much away — her use of the “real world” combined with a fantastical one is a great twist.
Though Princess of the Wild Sea is a standalone novel, Blakemore has a left a door open to further exploration. It’s a delightful read with enough twists that it should even draw in readers who don’t like “princess books.”
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