Happy Book Lover's Day!

I was going to make a post about Elena of Avalor today until I saw on her Facebook page that it is Book Lover's Day. I decided this would be a great opportunity to tell you about some of my favorite princess books, including some by yours truly.


By far, my biggest inspiration when it comes to writing is Gail Carson Levine. Every princess fan should know who she is, since she penned Ella Enchantedone of the most famous princess books of our time. Though it was that book that earned her a Newberry Award, I can't say it's my favorite of her works. That honor would have to go to Fairest, which was a spin-off of Ella, but very much its own story. If you are unfamiliar with her work (which would surprise me if you are reading this blog), Gail specializes in re-imagining classic fairy tales in new and unexpected ways. What if Cinderella had to do everything her stepmother told her to not because she was weak-willed, but because she was under an obedience curse? What if Snow White was revered not for her beauty, but for her voice, and actually deemed herself ugly? What if Sleeping Beauty was so intelligent that the kingdom didn't know how to answer any questions until she woke up? These are the sorts of endeavors that Gail Carson Levine explores in her work.

When I was in Honors English in high school, I asked my teacher if I could do a book report on Ella Enchanted. However, when she saw that the book was recommended for girls ages eight and up, she made me choose another book. I wrote about a paper on Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn instead, and all was well. Yet, I was disappointed that I couldn't write a report on a book by one of my favorite authors. It is a common theory that teachers kill the joy of reading, and I feel this is especially true among princess fans. Sadly, fairy tale and princess-themed novels written for an older audience are few and far between. The ones that do exist usually come with mixed reviews among fans of the genre. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who loved Gregory Maguire's novel of Wicked as much as the Broadway play. I don't think I'm alone in saying that we should let children and adults read what they enjoy, regardless of the intended audience.

Believe it or not, there is another Cinderella adaptation that I enjoyed even more than Ella Enchanted. That would be Just Ella by Margaret Peterson-Haddix. This version reverses Cinderella's happy ending, as she learns that her wedding to the prince was all a sham based around finding a maiden beautiful enough to produce an attractive heir. The story then becomes a thriller, with her trying to escape the palace, her step-family, and the prince, who is a completely unsympathetic character. Her spin-off book, Palace of Mirrors was even more enjoyable, and possibly my favorite princes book of all time. It was a refreshing original tale, focusing on a girl who was raised in a peasant village with humble accommodations who was told her for her entire life that she was secretly the true princess and was waiting for the day when she could reclaim the throne. According to the Amazon listings for these books, she has apparently written another book, Palace of Lies, which I have not yet had the pleasure of reading, but I'm sure it's fantastic.

Another great princess trilogy is The Princesses of Westfalin by Jessica Day George. Focusing on a less popular Grimm Brothers fairy tale, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," these books are similar to Gail Carson Levine and Margaret Peterson-Haddix's works, as they also turn what was once enchanting and magical into a thrilling curse that the princess sisters must go n a daring adventure to escape. The three books in this series are Princess of the Midnight Ball, Princess of Glass, and Princess of the Silver Woods. Some features that stand out about this trilogy are that all twelve princesses are named after flowers, and a knitting knight who uses his knitting needles as a weapon.

Before I get to my books, I would like to also give a quick shout-out to Donna Jo Napoli, who, like the others listed here, puts a new and interesting spin on fairy tale adaptations. The one I remember the most is Sirena, which is sort of a take on "The Little Mermaid," but it is in no way the same story. It focuses on the challenges of a mermaid who falls in love with a shipwrecked sailor. She teaches him how to swim, and he teaches her about his world in turn, but she has no way of becoming part of it. I suppose it's what "The Little Mermaid" would have been if the mermaid had stayed with the prince after rescuing him and told him who she really was without becoming human. She also wrote Zel, which is an adult version of "Rapunzel" from the perspective of Mother Gothel, and Beast, which tells the story of "Beauty and the Beast" from the perspective of, well, Beast. I did not enjoy these as much as the works of Gail or Margaret, but they are worth a quick read-through if you are looking for more mature adaptations of fairy tales.

As for me, I have written five novellas and one book of fairy tale poetry. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and fairy tales played a large part in that desire. My most popular book, Of Land and Sea: The Untold Story of the Little Mermaid, focuses on the life of Princess Helena, the woman who marries the prince in the little mermaid's stead. It is an analysis of the events that happened before and after Hans Christian Andersen's tale, which is actually quite different from the beloved Disney version. Blood Red is a modern-day realistic interpretation of "Little Red Riding Hood," complete with gangs and mysteries to solve. Rebirth: A Faery's Tale is probably my favorite of the books I've written so far. It focuses on a fire faery who falls in love with a blacksmith, but can't touch him without burning him. It helped me through a difficult time in my life. I've even turned it into a feature-length screenplay that I would love to turn into a film someday. Feel free to check out the above link as well as my Facebook page to learn about the rest.

Happy reading!

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