Review: The Scarred Prince

I recently started a new series called Kingdoms of Fable by Erika Everest. The first book is The Scarred Prince, which is promoted as an adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Little Red Riding Hood." Instead of retelling these well-known fairy tales, I found that The Scared Prince was actually an original story with references to many other fairy tales that were not listed in the description. I knew about Erika Everest from the Fairytale Courtyard group on Facebook that she shares with one of my favorite authors, A.G. Marshall. This series is quite new with only two books out so far, and I think it's off to a terrific start. It's about a group of princesses who know each other due to a shared curse inspired by "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." Each book focuses on one of their adventures while further developing their shared friendships and experiences.

The Scarred Prince by Erika Everest

The Scarred Prince does not feel like a true "Beauty and the Beast" adaptation because the prince is still very much human and is able to function normally in society without being judged or feared for his deformation like in the fairy tale. The fabled "beastly" curse only affects half of his face with grotesque scars, similar to The Phantom of the Opera. Prince Sebastian uses a hood to hide his deformation in public, which allows him to be a regular prince without the need for an enchanted staff of servants. The most interesting parts of the story rely on its heroine, a kickass warrior princess named Sienna who wishes to join the prince's army of rangers. She makes a memorable impression on Sebastian by using cunning and stealth to sneak into his chamber without getting caught and pleading her case to him. Through her actions, she demonstrates the benefits of having a female spy on his team who can easily slip in and out of court affairs to gain valuable information. She is such a strong protagonist that she singlehandedly steals the whole story.

Another thing I like about this book is the length. It is long enough to tell a complete story but short enough to not have to sift through endless chapters of exposition. The book is pleasantly fast-paced compared to other books I've read recently. The ending leaves just enough questions to want to read more of the series without being unsatisfying. Sienna has a dark past that is revealed in bits and pieces throughout the narrative, which is what motivates her to become a ranger who is capable of defending herself. The only downfall of the short length is how late the book introduces the dream world that Sienna is trapped in at night along with the other princesses. This is where the book introduces the heroines of future stories in the series that I am eager to get to know better.

The love story between Sienna and Prince Sebastian plays a major role in this book, but it was not the most memorable part. Sebastian is impressed with Sienna's cleverness on the battlefield and sneaky methods of gathering information. He considers the prospect of marrying her several times but is so traumatized by the other women who ran away after seeing his disfigured face that he fears the same thing will happen to her. Sienna, on the other hand, is so obsessed with her independence and battle training that she does not want to consider settling down even though it is obvious that she has feelings for Sebastian. These star-crossed lovers wrestle with the idea of taking their relationship to the next level throughout the book. Though the romance is engaging, Sienna is so strong of a character that I cared more about her happiness than I did about her finding romance with Sebastian or any other suitor.

The Scarred Prince is an impressive start to a new fairy tale series about princesses who don't need rescuing. I was highly impressed with all of the ways that Sienna used her femininity to her advantage and proved that a woman can be just as capable as a man by relying on her unique strengths to make up for their physical differences, something that Disney failed to portray in the recent remake of Mulan. I am eager to read the next book in this series, The Golden Ball, and learn more about the magical dream world where all of the princesses meet in secret at night.

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