Author: Garth Nix
Genre: MG/Children’s Fantasy
Available: 28th Feb
Garth Nix is on hilarious form as he spins his very own fairy tale, featuring Princess Anya, who, with her loyal dog, must embark on a terribly important (capital Q) Quest to acquire the ingredients for a reversal lip balm, the vital item needed to change a frog back to a prince . . . oh, and save her kingdom from her villainous step(step)father.
A brilliantly funny take on fairytales and quests for younger readers.
Source: ARC from Piccadilly Press via NetGalley
This is a fun romp of a fantasy tale, with a reluctant heroine princess setting out on a quest to make a magic lip balm that will help her transform frogs back into princes. Anya’s not all that keen on doing even that much, since it takes her away from her comfortable library and her magic books, but as her Quest progresses even more responsibilities land on her young shoulders until there’s a whole kingdom counting on her to succeed.
It starts off well, with Anya doing her best to keep her older sister and other members of her castle safe from her cruel stepstepfather, but the threat of school is enough to send her fleeing, with a talking royal dog to help her, along with a reluctant frog much in need of her help. Throw in an overgrown newt, some responsible robbers, a Good Wizard and an interesting flying carpet with an unpronounceable name and there’s plenty of fun stuff going on.
However, I have to admit, there were times when my interest did wane a little. Mostly it was when Anya reached a new place and everyone had to be introduced and the next phase of the quest had to be explained and people were pushing her into fighting for the Bill of Rights and Wrongs. At these moments the pace tended to slow right down and my attention occasionally wandered. Things usually picked up again shortly after and I found it easy enough to get to the end.
This is a pretty long book for this younger age group (almost 400 pages), and although there are illustrations by Christopher Stengel throughout, I think less confident readers will struggle to get through it. Anya is an okay heroine, who grows as the book goes on, and I did enjoy the underlying themes of equality, democracy and the importance of laws, but at times it felt like the book was trying to be a bit too clever and some of the fun got lost in all the details.
Overall I enjoyed it, even if I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped. However, if you know any young female fantasy enthusiasts who love to read, then this should hopefully delight them. Not only because Anya is a decent princess who is more than capable of rescuing herself, but because there are several other impressive women scattered throughout (except for Morven, who was a massive disappointment). In all a mostly fun twist on an old fairytale, which definitely leaves the door open for more to come from Anya and her friends.
Frogkisser! is out February 28th.
Visit Garth Nix for more details.