Summary - Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available specimen of imbecilic manhood. Starved and miserable, locked in the castles highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . . But Ben's private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat facing the castle and indeed the entire country. Can Princess Ben save her kingdom from annihilation and herself from permanent enslavement?
Review - Princess Ben is a complete departure from the Dairy Queen series in which I feel in love with Catherine Gilbert Murdock's writing. Princess Ben is set in fantastical Montagne where the young princess is orphaned when her parents and uncle, part of the royal party, are attacked. Ben's world is turned upsidedown, she needs to find the strength, courage and ingenuity that she has never needed to use before. Murcock is supreme at crafting complex, stubborn and very relatable female characters. Not only that but this novel, amidst the magical and the amazing, depicted very accurate binge eating as a coping mechanism.
The language used is so very different from Dairy Queen but equally strong. Each character is beautiful drawn with unique voices and motivations. Fairy tales are debunked, the truth of these stories interwoven effortlessly through the narrative. In some ways it reminded me of the Drew Barrymore movie, Ever After but far superior. Ben doesn't need rescuing, she just needs an opportunity.
Murdock plain amazes me and I am very excited to see what her next project will be outside of the Dairy Queen.
Published: March 2008
Format: Paperback, 344 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
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