Review: An Inconvenient Princess

It took a few months, but I finally got around to reading Melanie Cellier's contribution to the Entwined Tales series. It was from Melanie Cellier's Facebook page that I first learned about Entwined Tales, a series of six fairy tale adaptations by different authors about a family who was "blessed" with the magic of the worst fairy godfather ever, Mortimer. I had read all of Melanie's other books as well as the first book in Entwined Tales, A Goose Girl by K.M. Shea, and A Little Mermaid by Aya Ling, the fifth in the series. An Inconvenient Princess by Melanie Cellier is the sixth and final book, so I've now read half the books while skipping over the middle three. The novels work just fine as stand-alone stories, so I didn't particularly feel like I was missing out on anything from the ones I haven't read. An Inconvenient Princess is an adaptation of "Rapunzel," but in this version, the long-haired heroine is more of a comedic sidekick than a main character.

An Inconvenient Princess tells the story of Penny, the youngest daughter of a family that is "blessed" by Mortimer, the most incompetent fairy godfather anyone can ask for. Penny is the twin sister of Anneliese, and their relationship reminded me of that of Sophie and Lily, two other twins from several of Melanie Cellier's previous books. In this case, though, there was clear contrast between the two sisters. Anneliese is the playful mischievous one while Penny is logical and responsible, constantly getting her sister out of trouble. This time, however, Anneliese got into even more trouble than usual when she disappeared without a trace, forcing Penny to ask for Mortimer's help to find her. Thanks to the fairy godfather's usual blundering, Penny found herself in Rapunzel's tower and had to rescue the fair maiden, ending up with an inconvenient sidekick who knew nothing about the world and was curious about everything. Penny saved Rapunzel just before Prince Arthur could, so he ended up tagging along on the quest to find her sister as well, since he was determined to find damsels in distress to rescue.

At times, this book felt like a bit of a self-insertion fairy tale in the vein of Aya Ling's The Ugly Stepsister. After all, what princess fan wouldn't love to become best friends with Rapunzel and fall in love with the prince? Self insertion fantasies certainly have their guilty pleasures. Though Penny's insight and wisdom make her a great contrast to Anneliese's whimsy and Rapunzel's naivete, she might just be a bit too capable, leaving very little for her sidekicks to do. Of course, that also is what draws Prince Arthur's attention toward her over Rapunzel. There is somewhat of an explanation for her incredible amount of ingenuity in getting out of sticky situations toward the end of the book. Still, everything tends to be a little too easy for Penny, which makes her kind of a Mary Sue and not very interesting as a heroine. Thankfully, her insecurities about being the youngest sibling and having purple eyes do make her seem slightly more human.

As the last book in Entwined Tales, I have to say that An Inconvenient Princess really captures the heart of the series. I'm not sure if it's because the groundwork had already been laid in the first five books or if the premise resonated more with Melanie than the other authors. Either way, of the three books I've read, Mortimer makes the most appearances in this one, and his incompetence as a fairy godfather is by far the most apparent. There are also references made to all five other books throughout Penny's story, and it is double the length of the first book in the series, which allows for a more sufficient epilogue. Another fun parallel between the first and last book is that they both contain hilariously naive princesses that the more level-headed main characters are forced to put up with due to their circumstances. Both Davina from A Goose Girl and Rapunzel from An Inconvenient Princess made poor decisions due to a lack of experience in the outside world but still had the best intentions at heart.

Though I didn't enjoy An Inconvenient Princess quite as much as the books from Melanie Cellier's Four Kingdoms series, it was still a fun read. It is a light-hearted take on the story of "Rapunzel" with a similar tone to Aya Ling's A Little Mermaid. Melanie also did a fantastic job of closing out the entire series by concluding the arc of Mortimer's follies and referencing all of the characters from the previous books. Penny was a little too capable as a heroine, but her love for her sister was admirable, and Rapunzel made for a great comedic sidekick. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the other books in the series and wants to learn how it ends.


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