Today I’m featuring an older book that was a re-read for me. Gail Carson Levine is one of my favorite authors, and I enjoyed The Two Princesses of Bamarre when I read it several years ago. But I picked it up again this summer for research, as I was researching using a fantastical object in one of my stories.
I wasn’t disappointed. I love how when you re-read a book, you find a different thing each time. I remember being struck by the interesting dragon on the first read, but this time, I was struck by the dynamics between the sisters and Addie’s growth as a character.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre couldn't be more different. Princess Addie is fearful and shy. Her deepest wish is for safety. Princess Meryl is bold and brave. Her deepest wish is to save the kingdom of Bamarre. They are sisters, and they mean the world to each other.
Then disaster strikes, and Addie -- terrified and unprepared -- sets out on a perilous quest. In her path are monsters of Bamarre: ogres, specters, gryphons, and dragons. Addie must battle them, but time is running out, and the sister's lives -- and Barmarre's fate -- hang in the balance.
What I love about THE TWO PRINCESSES OF BAMARRE:
- A shy main character: I have mentioned before how I have a soft spot for shy heroines. It's a harder feat for an author to create a shy character that comes off the page, so I'm always impressed when an author achieves this. Addie is one of those characters—timid at first, but memorable.
- Interesting twists on fantasy tropes and magical items: This is what I expect when I read Levine. I know she’ll take something like a dragon or an elf we’ve seen a thousand times and make it all her own. I also loved how she used seven league boots and a magical tablecloth in this one.
- An epic poem: I really enjoyed how Levine used a Beowulf-like poem to foreshadow events and serve as a reminder of the theme. I’m usually one of those readers who skips epigrams and quotes, but this poem was just as interesting as the main story.
- A strong relationship between sisters, who couldn’t be more different. It was refreshing to read a book without sibling rivalry. Despite their vastly different personalities, Addie and Meryl value each other’s good qualities and always support each other.
- A bittersweet, but fitting ending. I loved how Addie learned to be brave and how Levine provided us with a happy ending but with a cost. I’ve found that my opinion of a book hinges on the ending, and for me, this one did not disappoint.If you love quests, interesting fantasy creatures, and reluctant, but brave heroines, you must check out this book. And writers, if you haven’t already, check out Levine’s blog, where she answers questions from readers about writing: gailcarsonlevine.blogspot.com/(If you don't mind spoilers, in her latest post, she talks about writing the ending of TWO PRINCESSES.)
If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.