Review: The Silent Princess

Princess League by Mira Crest was another series I learned about through this year's National Fairy Tale Day. The Silent Princess, a retelling of "The Little Mermaid," appears to be the first book, despite the big number "2" on the cover above the title. The Hidden Princess, which has a number "1" on the cover, is scheduled to come out next month. Princess League series is promoted as "Princesses meet Avengers," which sounds pretty similar to another series I read recently. It appears that all the princesses from the series are supposed to have some sort of superpower and that each book ends with some sort of cataclysmic battle that affects the lives of thousands of people. Though The Silent Princess was not my favorite adaptation of "The Little Mermaid," it did bring a few elements to it that have not been done before.

The Silent Princess starts out with a seemingly ordinary girl on land named Marina who is working at some sort of orphanage or sweatshop run by a wicked tyrant named Pratt. When she attempts to protect one of her friends from Pratt's abuse, Marina discovers that she has mysterious ice powers. Besides knowing nothing about these powers, she also can't recall where she came from or if she had always been mute. All she can remember is a strange boy she keeps seeing in her dreams. After Pratt kicks her out for witchcraft, Marina is taken in by a kind woman named Emma until she inevitably finds the boy from her dreams and decides to chase after him. What made this adaptation unique is that Marina spends quite a bit of time on land before chasing the prince and learning about some of the more wicked aspects of humanity. The first portion of the book reminded me of Matilda, a story I wouldn't ordinarily associate with "The Little Mermaid."

The course of the story changes dramatically after Marina decides to chase after Prince Dominic. Not long after finding him on a ship, she encounters her mermaid family who tells her who she really is and why her memories and voice were taken away. An interesting reversal from most versions of the fairy tale was that much of the time that Marina spent with Dominic took place in the underwater kingdom instead of his kingdom on land. They used a magical bubble membrane called an "etherfin" to breathe underwater. It was nice to get to know some of Marina's sisters and see how badly they wanted her to stay with them, something that was inherent to the original fairy tale but excluded from the Disney movie. I couldn't help laughing when at the reveal that Marina's father was named King Trenton and behaved exactly like King Triton from the Disney movie. Marina's name was trite enough already, but "Trenton" sounds like the dollar store version of "Triton."

The fun whimsy of the underwater kingdom was quickly shattered in the final portion of the book when catastrophe struck both worlds. The death toll of unimportant characters in The Silent Princess rivals that of Maleficent 2. In some ways, this book wasn't as dark as the original fairy tale, yet there are so many people who die in it that it doesn't quite hit the impact it should due to the lack of names and personalities for most of them. Making the ocean fill with blood didn't leave a particularly pleasant image in my head. There were two villains in this book. While one was extremely obvious, the other was a surprise twist that came entirely out of the blue. It's one of those cases where a character meets someone by chance, and they turn out to be this legendary figure that's directly connected to their life. I didn't understand why Marina would possibly forgive this person after learning what they had done.

The Silent Princess was somewhat uneven. The story had some creative and interesting elements to it. At the same time, it was clear that it had not been proofread, and none of the characters had any semblance of a personality through their dialogue. During the parts where Marina was silent, there was no consistency around what she communicated using a pen or sign language. The lack of quotes or italics sometimes made it hard to tell what was supposed to be dialogue for her. It felt like the book was trying to be too many different things at the same time and failed to be any of them as a result. My favorite part was the opening chapters where Marina learned a little about life on land without quite understanding why she was there. When it tried to turn into a big war epic at the end, it lost most of my interest. However, I think the book jumped the shark the moment it introduced King Trenton.


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