Strong female lead characters are intriguing to me. It’s because I have two young daughters with whom I want to share stories. Stories with which they can identify and relate. Stories that don’t rely on the traditional “princess gets rescued by a heroic man” motif. In this week’s Stack Overflow, I have three such books with three atypical princesses.
First up is The Princess in Black, written by Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. In it, Princess Magnolia appears to be a typical princess, having hot chocolate with Duchess Wigtower.
Until the monster alarm sounds!
Then Princess Magnolia sneaks away to become the Princess in Black, the monster-hunting princess. Can she stop the monster threat and keep her secret safe from Duchess Wigtower?
I got this book for my six-year-old on release day. When she arrived home from school, she immediately grabbed the book and started reading, rather than going into her usual routine. She absolutely loves The Princess in Black and wants to order the next in the series.
Next on my stack is a book by Jodi Meadows titled The Orphan Queen. This is the first book in a fantasy duology, with recommended ages fourteen and up. The premise is that magic, when used, has a by-product called wraith. Wraith is slowly taking over the different lands.
To combat the wraith, the different rulers of the lands created an alliance to ban magic use. The main character of the book, Wilhelmina Korte, is the daughter of two rulers who refused to sign on to the alliance and ban magic.
Wilhelmina and other children from her land have banded together to take their land back from those who invaded and killed their parents. They’ll stop at nothing to get their homes back, and, for Wilhelmina, to keep her secret.
I enjoyed this book. The magic system was not unique in itself, though the wraith is new to me. I like the idea that magic use has a detrimental effect on not just the user, but also the world at large. Meadows has plotted The Orphan Queen in such a way that we understand the dangers the wraith poses, but are left wondering what it really is and what really needs to be done about it.
Last on my stack is Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. This is the third book in the Throne of Glass series. Maas has noted that the Throne of Glass series is a twist on the Cinderella story: Celaena is a disenfranchised princess-turned-assassin who now works for the tyrant king who killed her parents and subjugated not only her kingdom, but the entire continent. He’s also, somehow, extinguished magic.
Heir of Fire is the third book of the series. If you haven’t read the series yet, I’d urge you to stop reading here, as it’s hard to write a spoiler-free review of a mid-series book!
Celaena is on her mission for the King of Adarlan to assassinate the Ashryvers of Wendlyn. As we are discovering, Celaena is an assumed identity. Her true name is Aelin, and she is related by blood to the Ashryvers.
Celaena completes enough of her mission to know the weaknesses of the Ashryver’s fortress, and to have seen her target. She discovers that her target is beloved by his people and not at all the monster she thought him to be.
In the end, she can’t go through with her mission.
Instead, she gets drunk and debates finding her aunt, the Fae Queen Maeve. Maeve may hold the key to overthrowing the tyrant king who killed Celaena’s parents and restore Celaena to her throne.
I’ve enjoyed this series immensely. This is my second read-through of Heir of Fire. I’d recommend this series to adults or teens (fourteen and up) who enjoy epic fantasy stories.