Nature acts as a secret source of magic and mayhem for the young protagonist in Bahn’s debut novel.
At the start of the book, 11-year-old Agnes Adelaide Fordyce leads a rather average, uneventful life. Having lost her mother at an early age, she lives with her father and twin older brothers in a remote fishing village in Nova Scotia. The amount of masculine influence in her life causes her to develop a tomboyish personality, but in spite of her active lifestyle and severe dislike of dresses, she still finds tales of princesses and castles appealing. Not only does this make her more relatable to a broader spectrum of young readers—from the prissiest of girls to the most adventurous of boys—it also puts her in the perfect state of mind when she encounters Octavia, a babysitter who is more than meets the eye. Octavia invites her to become Princess of the Bering Sea, one of the Guardians of the Ancient Realm responsible for protecting the natural world. As Agnes soon finds out, though, the greatest threat to the Earth comes from power-mad kings within the Ancient Realm itself. She finds this out remarkably soon, in fact. Within 24 hours, she becomes a princess, meets numerous new allies and enemies, faces life-threatening danger and must do all she can to prevent the total collapse of the natural world. The narrative and structure of the book reflect this fast pacing. While Agnes has little problem accepting everything as it comes, readers who prefer easing into magical and mysterious realms may have difficulty adjusting. The greatest trouble lies in getting a grasp on several of the novel’s secondary characters, as some of the more complex aspects of their personalities get lost in the rush. Not that any of the characters are without potential, though. All of them—and the entire story, for that matter—are intriguing enough to sweep readers away through the end.
Bahn presents a straightforward fantasy story plenty capable of engaging young readers, especially those with limited attention spans.