Review: The Seven Years Princess

The Seven Years Princess by Brittany Fichter is one that had been on my reading list for a while. After reading several of Brittany's other books, I knew to expect a dark fantasy romance with religious undertones. In this case, however, I was not very familiar with the fairy tale it was based on. So I pulled out my fancy Brothers Grimm anthology and took a few minutes to learn the story of "Maid Maleen." It is about a girl who was imprisoned for seven years after falling in love with a prince and left her tower to find that everything she knew had been destroyed. As soon as I finished it, I said to myself "Yup, that sounds like a Brittany Fichter story." Her adaptations tend to be darker than most, so this seemed like the perfect fairy tale for her to expand upon.

Ever since she was a little girl, Princess Maleen took a liking to Prince Roburts, who belonged to an enemy kingdom. The one person who she could never tell about this forbidden romance was her uncle, who ruled her kingdom with an iron fist. One day, she would come of age to take over the throne and make her own decisions, but that day was far in the future. Her secret remained safely under wraps until Maleen realized how determined her uncle was to start a war and made a public impromptu announcement about her betrothal to the prince, hoping it would end the struggle between the two kingdoms. Instead, her uncle was so enraged by this announcement that sentenced her to imprisonment in an isolated tower for seven years until she came of age. Maleen was not alone in this tower. A servant named Jalyna was trapped with her to take care of the princess during these lonely years, but it turned out to be very much the opposite as Maleen was forced to do her best to make sure Jalyna didn't starve herself to death from despair.

Many of Brittany Fichter's earlier adaptations change certain details about the story to expand upon the world so it matches her darker style of storytelling. This story was already dark enough that she didn't need to change much, which served as both an advantage and a disadvantage. There were just enough additional details for Maleen's relationship with Roburts to feel genuine and to understand the intent behind Maleen being locked up for so long. Yet, the seven years passed by so quickly in the book that it was difficult to understand why neither Maleen nor Roburts could find a way to get her out of the tower any sooner. Though the book elaborates a bit upon both of their attempts to add a sense of realism to the story, they don't seem to be seven years worth of attempts, which is a very long time to try to accomplish something. It seemed like it only took seven years because that's what the fairy tale said it would take as well as when Maleen would come of age. I like that she was a more active character in this adaptation, but doing so took away from the believability of how long it took her to escape.

The other aspect of the story that was harder to swallow was the love triangle that Maleen found herself in upon escaping. In the fairy tale, the prince's new bride forces Maleen to switch places with her because she does not know that Maleen is his former lover and doesn't want the world to see how ugly she is. Here, Priscilla knows exactly who Maleen is and uses her powers to make Maleen look like her and marry Roburts in her place because she does not want him to discover that she was tainted by dark magic. Even though Maleen asks her why she can't use magic on herself and marry him, the explanation she gives doesn't make that much sense. Much of this is attributed more to the original fairy tale than this specific adaptation, though. It seems odd that any bride would want to manipulate a former lover of her betrothed into marrying him in her place and then get angry about the two actually being in love after their nuptials. Brittany did the best she could in making sense out of the material she had to work with, and I appreciate how faithful she was to the original fairy tale while adding just enough new content to flesh out the world and characters.

The Seven Years Princess fits perfectly into Brittany Fichter's unique collection of dark fairy tale retellings. There could not have been a better story to match her writing style than "Maid Maleen." I will surely remember this obscure Brothers Grimm fairy tale for years to come thanks to this book. It does an excellent job of developing the characters and allows us to experience their long struggle for freedom, love, and peace among their kingdoms. However, the book struggles to explain away some of the more confusing elements of the fairy tale that may make it difficult for readers to fully suspend their disbelief. I recommend this story to people who enjoy darker fairy tale adaptations and are looking for a story that hasn't already been retold a million times.


Kasha's Pen said…
Thanks for sharing with us

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