This was a fun story, hovering right between MG and YA, I think.
Rhis is sixteen, romantic, a princess of the tiny kingdom of Nym.
Nothing ever happens in Nym, until she receives an invitation to a celebration for Prince Lios of Vesarja, the largest kingdom around. Lios is as handsome as Rhis hoped, and she falls instantly in love, just like in her favorite songs. But life isn’t like the songs — none of her friends are happy, and then there is the Perfect Princess, Iardith, who keeps occupying Lios’s time.
Rhis does her best to fix things for her friends, as she pursues her romantic ideal . . . and then the Perfect Princess is abducted. Of course Rhis must go to the rescue . . . the princes right behind.
A charming story. Sweet and fast-paced, with low stakes and tension. Believable teenage characters.
Things I liked:
–Rhis falls out of love with Lios promptly, as soon as she has a conversation with him. She thinks he’s nice, but that’s all. Angst-quotient: very low.
–Rhis of course falls in love with someone else, and that’s well-handed, with a huge emotional blowup that actually worked for me. I thought she got over it fairly fast, but that wasn’t completely unbelievable. Angst-quotient, actually still lowish, despite the huge blowup scene.
One thing that worked really well here is that Rhis has the Big Reveal and then is instantly plunged into urgent adventure as the plot suddenly snaps from house party to rescue mission.
–I enjoyed the heartless flirt character. She has her huge emotional blowup when accused of being a heartless flirt, and the funny part is, she really is a terrible flirt, though not actually heartless.
–I liked the other secondary characters as well. They are very simple, each one with a single defining characteristic, but that suits the story, which is also simple.
–I liked the details about the journey and learning to pitch in and help with the camp chores and so on. I like journey scenes, generally, if they’re at all well done, which this was.
Things that were just so-so:
–At sixteen, I know Rhis is a bit naive, but it was kind of hard to believe she would reveal her name at that one moment. Also, the singing diamond was a little contrived in a bunch of ways. Also, the get-out-of-jail-free card was more than a little contrived. Sure served to reduce tension, though, so if you’re looking for a low-tension read, here you go.
–Iardith is incredibly one-dimensional and too unlikable for me. I thought dialing that back would have worked better. A girl can be unlikable without being THIS nasty.
–To be honest, I thought the Message quotient was a little high. You Shouldn’t Judge People By Their Rank, but By Who They Are As People. Thank you, good advice. Of course for a MG/YA reader, that might not have felt as much like a bludgeon.
Things I LOVED:
I very much enjoyed how the parents step in and force the children to settle down and wait five years before they get married. That was soooo sensible, way better than the teenagers toppling into marriage on the strength of their adventure.
Sherwood Smith does a great job showing the young people mature through their letters, and the last chapter, where we see them as young adults, functions beautifully to tie up the story.