After selfish Prince Syrah is transformed into a frog, he becomes a better person.
Eighth and youngest child of the king of the Olive Isles, handsome, effortlessly athletic Syrah is vain, inconsiderate, uncaring, and rude. As a joke he kisses Delicata Gourd from neighboring Yellow Country. But it wasn’t a joke to serious, sincere Deli, who writes Syrah a love letter in return. Syrah’s response? Harshly rejecting her. A year later, Syrah’s interested in Deli, but she (understandably and wisely) rejects him. Incensed, Syrah makes Deli’s love letter public. Rather than face the consequences of his dishonorable actions, Syrah runs off, makes an incautious wish, and is transformed into a frog. Fifteen months and many adventures later, the third-person narration chronicles frog Syrah’s slow recognition of his flaws even as he simultaneously works to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten Yellow Country. He teams up with the only person he can communicate with, Harrow Steelcut, Deli’s former suitor. Their eventual triumph is satisfying, but the friendship that blooms between the two former enemies and Syrah’s internal transformation are the most gratifying of all. The abundance of brown-skinned characters, including all three principals, is great to see in a fantasy. Morrison deftly chronicles Syrah’s changing heart—a believably long and nuanced journey—and retools both “The Frog Prince”and other fairy tales in interesting, original, and grim ways.
As a stand-alone or as part of the Tyme series, eminently worthwhile. (Fantasy. 10-14)