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Princess Ben : being a wholly truthful account of her various discoveries and misadventures, recounted to the best of her recollection, in four parts
Book
2008
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In this new offering, the author of Dairy Queen (2006) and The Off-Season (2007) shifts from a contemporary Wisconsin setting to a magical, snowbound kingdom. Once again, though, Murdock's protagonist is a winning, iconoclastic teen female. Princess Benevolence's life is upended during a single afternoon's tragedy: while visiting an ancestor's grave, her uncle and her mother are killed, and her father disappears. Ben, now the kingdom's heir, begins grueling lessons with her aunt Sophia, learning myriad responsibilities and arts of royalty. Just as her tutelage becomes unbearable, she discovers a hidden wizard's room in the castle and begins teaching herself, using the enchanted spell books she finds there. Then tense negotiations to marry Ben to the sullen heir of a neighboring kingdom commence. Gathering her newfound magical knowledge, the princess flees the castle only to find grave dangers outside its walls. In delicious language that is both elevated and earthy, Murdock spins a rip-roaring yarn that borrows fairy-tale conventions (particularly from Sleeping Beauty) and reverses them to suit her strong, resourceful heroine. The wild adventure, intricately imagined setting, memorable characters, and romance will charm readers, especially fans of Gail Carson Levine's Fairest (2006).--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Princess Benevolence isn't a run-of-the-mill spoiled princess. Ben doesn't want to live in the royal castle wearing beautiful dresses. She'd rather sulk in her family apartments over the barracks, staying a scruffy, indulged ragamuffin. But Ben's parents are ambushed, leaving her, now the heir to the throne, in the care of her haughty aunt, the regent queen Sophia. Sophia is cold and loveless, determined to mold Ben into a marriageable princess. Ben's aunt starves her to make her willowy, forces her to take dance lessons to make her graceful and locks her in a barren bedroom cell to break her spirit. When she discovers a hidden door in her bleak bedroom, she throws herself into the task of learning magic. Maybe witchcraft will provide escape from Sophia, salvation from marriage and vengeance for her parents' deaths? Ben's coming-of-age fits well into a now-common fantasy mold: She grows into a self-reliant heroine, kicking butt while acquiring social graces on her own terms, saving the kingdom and the handsome prince--she's a fairy-tale princess for the modern girl. An amusing, heartwarming adventure put forth in richly flavored prose. (Fantasy. 11-13) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available "specimen of imbecilic manhood." Starved and miserable, locked in the castle's highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . . But Ben's private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat facing the castle and indeed the entire country. Can Princess Ben save her kingdom from annihilation and herself from permanent enslavement?
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