Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Eliora by the White Sea, there lived an 11-year-old girl called Darling Dimple.
Darling was born in a castle built by dragons, but she isn’t a princess; she’s a lowly pot scrubber in the castle’s under-cellar. When, as an ironically assigned punishment, Darling is promoted to Under-presser (ironing linens) to butterfly-collecting Princess Mariposa, she discovers a closet full of old, forgotten dresses. These are no ordinary dresses: each has the power to turn its wearer into someone else. It soon becomes apparent that the castle is thrumming with magic, magic stolen from the dragons who built the castle, dragons who long to break free and take their revenge. Darling discovers a plot to break the magic restraining the dragons, and it’s up to this cautiously intrepid heroine to save the princess, the castle, and the kingdom, one dress at a time. Darling’s world appears to be populated primarily by white people; Darling describes herself as “pasty,” with white, dandelion-fluff hair, and Princess Mariposa has “snow-white skin.” Darling narrates, her voice capturing both imaginative flights of fancy and a pragmatism that will endear her to readers.
A cheery start to a new series, this traditional-feeling fairy-tale–style fantasy will brighten the cloudiest of days. (Fantasy. 8-12)