A sheltered princess’s desire to travel before her arranged marriage places her at the center of a legendary quest in this YA novel.
The first of a planned fantasy trilogy from Logue (Redemption, 2011), the volume begins with the young Princess Eluned establishing a friendship with a talking magical creature, Jabberwock the Bandersnatch. Many years later, readers find the princess on the brink of her 18th birthday, dreading her impending marriage to Uriel, a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Accompanied by Jabberwock, she leaves her father’s realm on a journey, not quite sure where it will lead. Along the way, the companions recruit Bonpo, a giant and a talented cook, as well as Gwrhyr, a sarcastic flirt who also happens to be fluent in many languages. Eventually, Eluned vows to seek out the 13 treasures of her divided land: “Once collected together again, a righteous and good man might bring peace to the world.” Her trek finds her crossing paths with hallucination-inducing ghosts, feasting with Gypsies, and entering the fairy world. Armed with a ring of formidable power and a sword of legend, the princess and her friends travel to the ominous land of Annewven, home of the feared Crimson King Arawn, who possesses three of the fabled treasures. The story starts off a little shaky, but once Eluned is out in the wild, things get intriguing fast. Logue brings together a splendid cast of characters with spunk, spark, and heart. Because Eluned loves books, bookworms will be abundantly rewarded throughout the tale, with frequent references to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, T.S. Eliot, Lewis Carroll, and more. Welsh mythology heavily influences the princess’ story and world, so fans of Lloyd Alexander’s classic Chronicles of Prydain series should find much to enjoy here. While the pacing lags somewhat in the novel’s middle third, this gripping, immersive adventure and its relatable protagonist will likely win the hearts of many readers.
A page-turning fantasy set in a richly textured world, made all the more delightful by a thoughtful yet spirited heroine and her wonderfully oddball companions.