Saturday, May 30, 2020

More than a Princess (More Than a Princess, #1) by E.D. Baker
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From E. D. Baker, a magical new series about a heroic princess who’s more than she seems — and a kingdom whose fate rests in her hands.

Aislin is more than just a princess — she's half-fairy and half-pedrasi, with magical gifts that let her draw strength from the wilderness around her. When she’s captured and used as bait between two warring kingdoms, she must find a way to break free of their plot… while also minding the human princesses she encounters, conventionally beautiful girls who are all too ready to point out her differences. Thankfully, Aislin's inner strength goes beyond her magical qualities, and with a few loyal friends by her side, she's ready to stand up for herself and her kingdom.

E. D. Baker, whose books have sold over 1 million copies, offers a classic, original fairy-tale that celebrates beauty and goodness in all its shapes and sizes, sure to delight readers who love magic, suspense, girl power, and adventure.


I won a copy of More than a Princess several months ago, and was delighted when the author offered to sign it with a message for my girls! They love The Princess and the Frog movie, so I thought a similar story (since that movie was based on another of the author's books) would be something they enjoyed.

Unfortunately, this book had a glaring problem that I couldn't ignore, and one I didn't want to address in front of my girls. My main issue with this book was its focus and fixation on the main character's weight. They're only three, but I didn't want the character's comments to stick with them at such an impressionable age (or even once they're older). I have several sticky notes notating the areas where it's mentioned (and never in a nice way), so I'll share a few:

⮿ "Larch leaned forward to see past Nurlue. 'We're careful about what we eat,' she told King Tyburr. 'I can see why,' King Tyburr said, glancing at Aislin before turning to the heavier pedrasi and the fairies' padded clothes."

⮿ "'I'll need more fabric for this one's gowns,' said the seamstress. 'I'll do what I can to make her look thin, but I can't work miracles. The styles today are meant for slender girls.' 'Do you have any styles that would work on her?' asked Lady Speely. 'A few, and I'll try slimming colors, of course.'"

⮿ "And she wasn't even pretty! Well, her face was pretty, but her skin was as tanned as a goat girl's and she was as plump as the cook's daughter."

⮿ "He said that his father says that he should think about marrying you, but that's never going to happen. He said that he refuses to have a plump wife when there are so many thin girls around."

⮿ "Your voice is lovely, but seeing you would be too distracting."

⮿ "'Did you know that you'd be quite beautiful if only you lost some weight?' called Laneece."

More than a Princess is marketed as Childrens, Juvenile, and Middle Grade, so I hated that there were so many negative comments about the main character's appearance. It didn't add anything to the story. Aislin never seemed to take them seriously, but it was one component of the book that I wish had been left out. It was unnecessary and could potentially hurt a child's perception of themselves. There was nothing wrong with Aislin, and I hated that people kept insinuating otherwise.

Additionally, a lot of Aislin's actions (and those of other characters) simply didn't make sense. Aislin spends a large portion of her time trying to keep the humans away from her family and the castle, and even King Tyburr knows she's trying to distract and mislead them. However, when he suddenly wants to "rid the castle of its monsters," Aislin runs out screaming for him to save her. She says the castle is okay during the day, but she has to lock herself away at night (seriously, what is happening here). When the king first arrived, he commented on how much Aislin's "mother" obviously loved her, and that's how he'd deduced she was a princess. There was too much conflicting information, so her "needing to be saved" didn't make sense.

King Tyburr was welcomed into another king's castle, yet he was able to make demands as if its inhabitants were his own? How was he able to take Aislin so easily? Her "father" didn't insist that some of their guards go with them? King Tyburr shouldn't have held any authority over the faeries, despite Aislin trying to keep them safe from discovery. Aislin is still a child; however, all of the adults deferred to her because she was their princess. It didn't seem realistic to me.

I also have no idea how the humans made it as far as they did. Are you telling me the fairies had no warning systems in place to alert them of a breach or forced entry? They didn't have a way to hide or camouflage their home? They couldn't use magic to confuse or distract the humans? Again, it was unrealistic.

Tomas was also entirely too trusting of Aislin (and vice versa), especially since they didn't know each other and were both in similar positions of power. They bonded instantly, and a friendship didn't take long to develop. Later, his personality seemed to shift, and he didn't resemble the Tomas we first met. It was also annoying how quickly his doubts and disbeliefs regarding magic changed into enthusiastic acceptance.

Later on in the book, Aislin confessed to not giving the pedrasi the same respect she gave to fairies, and that came out of nowhere. Up until that point, she'd been equally happy about both sides of her heritage, and even seemed to use her pedrasi magic more. It was like the author was trying to force the main character to be internally conflicted, despite her never having felt that way before.

The actions of the adults were unbelievable, the way they treated children was incredibly frustrating, the negative fixation on the main character's weight, the general vibe of the story–it all left a lot to be desired. I honestly think this book will be detrimental to the way children view themselves, and hope that it's not something they focus on or take too seriously. The characters were shallow and underdeveloped, and the entire plot happened without too much fuss or conflict. (★★⋆☆☆)

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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless