Today’s post is a two-for-one special, as I finished reading a book and listening to a book late in the week. Both of these fantasy books are excellent and are highly recommended, so check out my thoughts on them both below:
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published 4/1/2012 by Scholastic Press
352 Pages (Hardcover)
Blurb: The False Prince is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.
My Take: A fun Middle-Grade fantasy novel to kick off a trilogy that features a fun main character, deplorable villains, plots and intrigue, and enough twists to keep you guessing even until the final pages are finished. It begins in a typical fashion: a group of people are selected for a task that will possibly save the kingdom. Yet the people chosen are all orphans, and the task is hardly something that you find in your typical fantasy book. This allowed the trope to feel fresh and new and was certainly packed with enough plot twists to keep things interesting.
There are certainly times when the main character, Sage, acts almost like an anti-hero and is definitely someone who can be classified as an unreliable narrator. There were moments where I wanted to yell at the character, which in the end adds to some of his charm. He doesn’t always do what you expect, nor what you think he should do. Yet he has his own set of morals and convictions and he is clearly an honorable and worthy protagonist by the time you reach the conclusion. This book is certainly worth reading, as the story will leave you anxious to dive into the next book. I highly recommend this to all readers.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Published 5/14/2013 by HarperCollins
496 Pages (Hardcover)
Blurb: At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.
Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.
The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.
But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?
The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.
My Take: A fun fairy tale-inspired book following two female protagonists in a story where only one seems destined to be the heroine of the story. An interesting take, with the girls ending up split with one being placed in the School of Evil and the other in the School of Good. Will their friendship divide? Were they placed into the correct school to begin with? It is a fun and enjoyable read, and good enough to convince me to read the sequels.
This one is a lot harder to gauge the readership for. Young girls of all ages will definitely enjoy the book and find themselves relating to both girl protagonists in the book. Lovers of fairy tales will also thoroughly enjoy the weaving of fairy tale elements into this fresh, unique story. It was a great book and a fast read in spite of the number of pages and one that I can wholeheartedly recommend.