An unconventional princess-in-training questions the status quo—and throws the kingdom for a loop.
When 12-year-old Princess Devin’s invitation to attend the Royal Academy arrives, she has reservations about her royal future, but Fairy Godmother Olivina assures her that her gifted way with animals, scorned by her mother, is not only acceptable, but will be nurtured. Still, there doesn’t seem to be much flexibility. Princesses are to be beautiful, to dance well, and to seek a good match with a prince. Most of all, princesses are never to take the lead in dangerous situations; they must wait to be rescued. But when harpies attack the school’s opening ball, the princes need help. Devin teams up with rakish Prince Heath to save the day. Nonconformity has its price, and Devin receives her first strike. After three, not only is she kicked out of school, but she’s altogether banished from Enchantasia. Olivina further isolates Devin from her classmates by warning them against fraternization. Though it expands on the world introduced in the Fairy Tale Reform School series, the Royal Academy unfortunately comes across as little more than a watered-down Hogwarts. While discussion of gender roles is thoughtful, racial and cultural diversity are limited; Devin and Heath present white. Characters are flat, the plot is predictable, and the fairy godmother as villain is a tired twist.
A disappointing spinoff to an inventive series. (Fantasy. 10-13)