Review: The Princess Search

The Princess Search by Melanie Cellier is the unplanned fifth novel in the Four Kingdoms series. It came out last week, and I couldn't wait to read it. It is supposed to be a retelling of "The Ugly Duckling," but it was no more the story of "The Ugly Duckling" than The Princess Fugitive was "Little Red Riding Hood," but the lack of predictability only made the story more enjoyable. The setting felt both familiar and new at the same time because most of the other books in The Four Kingdoms had a side character who was a prince or princess of Lanover, but since the main character in this book was not royalty, she had travelled to parts of the kingdom that the readers have never seen before. It was particularly nice to see the rambunctious youngest princess Celine again, who played a large role in both The Princess Game and A Dance of Silver and Shadow. Since all of her sisters had married off, she was eager to find wives for her two brothers so she could have girlfriends in the castle to play with again.

Isn't the cover beautiful? The Princess Search is told from the perspective of Evie, a talented seamstress who makes beautiful dresses that impress the royal family enough for them to hire her as their exclusive clothing maker. Evie is invited to join the royal family on an extended kingdom tour, which she accepts with some hesitance because she is worried that her past might catch up with her during their travels. Despite her monumental success as a seamstress, Evie was raised as an orphan being bounced from place to place without every truly having somewhere she could call home. Many of her foster families were cruel to her, and she was worried that seeing them again might affect her reputation with the royal family who had treated her so kindly prior to the tour.

I related to Evie's struggles of having what feels like a dark past. Even though I grew up in a loving family, I moved to several other states after college and had a very bad experience in one of them that made me afraid to return. Like Evie, I also had jealous enemies who dubbed me a liar and a thief. It was touching to see Evie's royal friends ignore these claims and maintain their trust in her above all else. They even took her seriously when she learned secret information about a rebellion against the crown and allowed her to lead them to safety. In the end, Evie realized that her lack of a true home was not a hindrance, but a strength that gave her knowledge about corners of the kingdom that even the royal family didn't know about. As a result, the shy lonely girl who didn't believe in herself transformed into a hero.

Melanie Cellier wrote that her main intention with The Princess Search was to give Frederic, the crown prince of Lanover, a love interest since every other kingdom in the series now had a future queen. Of all the princes in The Four Kingdoms, Frederic felt the most like a real guy to me. He was shy, often failed at humor, and couldn't relate to his little sister's energetic antics. He was also a good listener, which is why Evie found him so easy to talk to about her past. That made them perfect for each other. Evie had been bounced around so much throughout her life that she never had anyone she could get acquainted with before needing to leave for the next city. Frederic's faith in Evie gave her the self-esteem she lacked and allowed her to save Lanover from the rebellion.

The Princess Search is a wonderful book about overcoming adversity and finding a place to call home. I thought Evie was the second most relatable character in The Four Kingdoms series next to Marie from The Princess Pact. I enjoyed reading about all of the flowing and colorful fabrics she used in her designs, but more importantly, I loved the idea of being given a second chance. Evie had traveled so far and been through so much that it was satisfying to see it all culminate into something beautiful and rewarding at the end.


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