I loved this book. I read it as my small press book for 12 Days of Diversity Retellings Readathon. It’s an LGBTQIA retelling of The Princess and the Pea, with flavors of other fairy tales thrown in. It was so GOOD! It follows several princes and princesses in a realm divided into five or so kingdoms, but focuses mainly on Prince Phillip and Prince Daniel, who both have problems going on. Daniel is trying to find the cure for the curse of insomnia he got from his birthday fairy, and Phillip is out to save his kingdom from his evil sorceress stepmother. Along the way, they accrue new friends, adventures, and start to believe it might be okay to bend the rules of happily ever after in order to end up with one that actually makes them happy.
The world of this book was a lot of fun, poking fun at fairy tale tropes, and upending them. There are a lot of princesses who have failed to win Phillip’s hand by not detecting a pea under their mattresses, and have set off into alternate careers, since no one believes them to be princesses anymore. There are princes who want to marry princes, and queens who want to marry ladies-in-waiting. There’s the evil witch, and a troll king. There are also takes on modern things, such as the sketcherazzi, who pester royals with questions while they try to make quick sketches to sell to the realm’s equivalent of a tabloid. Each kingdom in the realm also has its own flavor and its own idiosyncrasies, making the journey to ever after a delightful and enchanting one to take.
I found myself laughing aloud at the satire of fairy tales involved here, but I also found the various romance storylines endearing and sweet. I cried happy tears. I also, however, found myself appreciating a deeper commentary involved here. I embraced the feminist aspects of the story, and found myself loving princesses who didn’t want to sit around waiting for a prince who may never show, but wanted to take their own happiness in their hands. That was the most rewarding aspect of the book for me: the desire all of the young royals have to rebel against the lives given them by their birthday fairies (who are like old women watching a soap opera as they watch their wards’ lives), and make their own chances at happiness, regardless of conventionality. It’s a mindset that anyone who’s ever felt a little bit different can definitely embrace, and I especially love that heterosexual relationships aren’t the only love available in this fairy tale.
Overall, I loved the book. It was a quick, sweet read. It had a lot of social commentary with a lot of fun, and it flaunted the fairy tale ideals of heterosexual romance and wilting flowers as princesses. If you’re looking for a fun, subversive fairy tale, this is perfect (especially if you loved the flavor of Enchanted from Disney).
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Would you read this one? Let me know in the comments below!