A middle-grade fantasy squashes an entire trilogy into one volume.
In the first part, 12-year-old Lilah, who tells the tale, strives to have adventures not suitable for a princess, a conundrum she solves in the usual way, by disguising herself as a scruffy boy. She learns quickly that the townsfolk are taxed to the limit by her father and her uncle, the king, and that her adored older brother, Peitar, despite his crippled leg, is in league with revolutionaries led by Derek, a friend of many years. In the second part, the uses of magic, barely mentioned earlier, become clearer, as Lilah finds refuge from the bloody revolution in a magical place beloved of her dead mother. In part three, Peitar and Derek, whose revolution has fallen apart in chaos, are captured by Lilah and Peitar’s uncle, and Lilah, with her loyal band, finds a way to help make things right. There is very little onstage violence, and the language is relatively simple. Readers may find themselves a bit nonplussed as various types of magic appear without warning and the physical dangers of revolution are noted but not made real.
The well-meaning adventure suffers from the unwieldy compression of events and tropes. (Fantasy. 8-12)