Friday, June 24, 2011

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

When Princess Gwen was born in the Kingdom of Treecrest, one of the fairies that was mistakenly not invited to the Christening cursed her with dying on her eighteenth Birthday, pricked by a spindle on a spinning wheel. The other fairies managed to mitigate that to her, and everyone else in the Kingdom sleeping for one hundred years, but King Halbert and Queen Karolina don't want to ever face something like that again. So when the next child, their daughter Annie, is born, they ask the Fairy named Moonbeam for her help.

She does this by casting a spell over Annie that makes magic unable to affect her or even act in her close presence. Which has another unintended side effect when Annie's lack of magic affects everyone who uses magic to make themselves pretty or improve their appearance, including her parents and her sister. So even though Annie is relegated to the back of the room so that her anti-magic doesn't show the world what everyone is trying to hide, Annie grows up to love her family and her sister, even if they can't stand having her too close because of her effect on them.

But when Gwen falls victim to the curse on her eighteenth birthday after all, it's up to Annie as the only one not able to sleep because the magic doesn't affect her, and Liam, a guardsman who can remain unaffected as long as he is in contact with Annie, to save the Kingdom by breaking the curse and the cursed sleep. But Annie has it in mind to change a few things. She doesn't like Gwen's current betrothed, the Prince of Shimshee, Digby. She thinks Digby is a horrible excuse for a man, and thinks that if she looks, perhaps she can find a better groom than him. So on her way back to Treecrest from Shimshee, she tries to pick up as many Princes as she can, hoping that if she tries all the available Princes, one will be Gwen's true love and wake her from her enchanted slumber.

But as she roams the Kingdoms with Liam, she becomes increasingly aware of what a wonderful man he is. Strong, brave, and loyal to her. But Liam is not the simple man he appears to be- he's actually a Prince, and his family, or at least his mother, is responsible for the predicament that Gwen and Anne find themselves in. But can Anne track down the fairy responsible for cursing her sister in the first place and get her to take off the curse, or will Anne's sister be forced to sleep the one hundred years mentioned in the curse? And can Anne find her sister's true love to waken her, and which of the Princes following her will he turn out to be?

I loved E.D. Baker's the Frog Princess series and books, and this looks like it will begin a new series, set in an entirely different world (or a different set of Kingdoms, at least). Anne may not have been turned into a Frog, but her lack of magic and anti-magic capabilities (as well as ability to sniff out magic) may end up saving her sister. And in a world where people use magic to seem prettier and more capable than they actually are, she is the only genuine girl around. Literally. But she doesn't allow it to make her bitter. Instead, she uses it to her advantage to keep her family safe.

I loved this adventure, in which we get to see that people who are physically beautiful and perfect on the outside can be the complete opposite on the inside, like Prince Digby. And Liam, who also eschews magic, is the best one of his family (while his father is by no means bad, he is subordinate to his wife in the family, which makes him weak). And while Gwen gets awakened at the end of this book, this series is definitely going to be ongoing, as there are plenty of plot threads that remain dangling, and menaces to Anne's family that remain to be dealt with.

If you enjoyed the books in the series by E.D. Baker that began with "The Frog Princess", you are sure to enjoy this book and any books that come after it in the series. Anne takes what could have been a severe drawback and manages to use it to her advantage and even as a weapon in a world where magic is so prevalent and endemic. I deeply enjoyed this book and hope that I will get to read more soon. Highly recommended, and I am looking forward to another long and enjoyable series.

No comments: