The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Princess Curse

The Princess Curse

4.5 34
by Merrie Haskell
     
 

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Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

Overview

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Debut author Haskell has her way with the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” incorporating references to other myths and legends and adding many twists of her own, not least of which is making the royals’ attempted rescuer a strong-willed, 13-year-old apprentice herbalist, Reveka. In her opinion, the curse that has befallen Prince Vasile’s 12 daughters is “the stupidest curse in existence! So what if the princesses are sleepy during the day, and their slippers are holey in the morning? It’s a curse of shoes and naps.” Nonetheless, when Vasile offers the hand of any of his daughters in marriage to anyone who banishes the curse (or a “fabulous dowry” if the curse-breaker is female), Reveka is determined to win the reward. Her search intensifies when a fellow herbalist’s family is affected by the curse, and war threatens, but Reveka soon realizes that herbs, magic, and spirit are no match for the deep roots of this mystery. With a good sense of humor, an able and empowered protagonist, and a highly original take on this tale, Haskell’s story gives readers much to enjoy. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Maggie L. Schrock
Thirteen year-old Reveka is an herbalist's apprentice during the Middle Ages, who has just been found by her long-lost father. The castle to which she serves is under a strange curse. Its prince cannot sire an heir, instead siring princess after princess (some legitimately and some illegitimately). Due to this curse, the 12 princesses travel to the Underworld each night to dance with Dragos, the beastly king of the Underworld, saving themselves from a forced marriage to him. Unfortunately, no one but the princesses know the cause of this curse, having been sworn to secrecy by Dragos. Reveka discovers this curse and sets out to break it, thereby winning the large dowry as a reward. However, after following the princesses to the Underworld and learning all about the curse, Reveka ends up being forced to agree to marry Dragos in exchange for the lives of the princesses and her father. During her time in the underworld, Reveka sets out to save her soul from ultimate doom, as well as saving the people, still cursed by Dragos, in the World Above. In the end, Reveka and Dragos form a friendship as well as making a deal. Reveka will be released, but must return to Dragos in 5 years, in exchange for the cure to Dragos's curse. An interesting twist to 2 well-known stories, "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," Haskell writes a beautiful story with an intriguing heroine. A theme of family and forgiveness runs throughout, as Reveka works to save the people in her home, as well as forging a relationship with her newly found father. Reviewer: Maggie L. Schrock
Kirkus Reviews

An imaginative, intriguing and spirited retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."

Reveka, a smart, irreverent, outspoken and observant herbalist's apprentice with a "curiosity ailment," is determined to break the mysterious and powerful curse on the princesses of Sylvania, though anyone who tries either disappears or falls into a deathlike sleep. In a fictional region of 15th-century Romania (between Maramures and Transylvania), 13-year-old Reveka yearns for her own herbery in a convent, "a whitewashed room filled with northern sunlight and tall drying cabinets." Initially driven by Prince Vasile's promise of a large reward—for a woman, "a fabulous dowry," with which Reveka could buy her way into an abbey—Reveka's motivation and sense of urgency changes when her friend Didina is poisoned and must join the "sleepers" in the western tower. Writing from Reveka's point of view, Haskell departs from traditional renditions by handing the sleuthing reins to a strong (and compassionate) heroine whose resourcefulness extends even to the Underworld, the "Sunless House," where she's faced with a dizzying moral dilemma.

In this impressive debut, the author artfully weaves humor, suspense, magic and myth into an intricate plot, which includes the possibility of an improbable romance and more exciting stories to come; we hope so. (glossary, author's note)(Historical fantasy. 10 & up)

Booklist
Haskell’s first novel offers a well-paced fantasy with an involving first-person narrative.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
[An] intriguing mix of fairy tale, Romanian folklore, and classic mythology…readers will likely be as anxious to return to the Underworld as Reveka.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
[An] intriguing mix of fairy tale, Romanian folklore, and classic mythology…readers will likely be as anxious to return to the Underworld as Reveka.
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
[An] intriguing mix of fairy tale, Romanian folklore, and classic mythology…readers will likely be as anxious to return to the Underworld as Reveka.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
[An] intriguing mix of fairy tale, Romanian folklore, and classic mythology…readers will likely be as anxious to return to the Underworld as Reveka.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—By layering the exoticism of Romanian folklore onto her novelization of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," Haskell sets this expansion of the story apart from others in a popular genre. Creatures such as the zmeu, a dragon that can assume human form, and the capcaun, a dog-headed ogre, as well as information about the failures and successes of medieval herbalists can be found within this unsettling tale. The curiosity and tenacity of 13-year-old Reveka, an apprentice herbalist at the castle of Prince Vasile, drive the narrative forward. She is determined to discover the secret of the curse laid upon the 12 princesses. At first she only wants the reward promised to anyone breaking the curse, but soon she becomes emotionally invested in saving the lives of the others who've tried to solve the mystery and now lie in near-death slumber in a tower of the castle. Her quest involves her in political intrigue, a Persephone-like trip to the Underworld, and more than one romantic entanglement. Haskell leaves many details murky—perhaps necessarily when so much magical enchantment is involved—but the overall effect is engrossing.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062008138
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/06/2011
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
761,665
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Merrie Haskell was born in Michigan and grew up in North Carolina. She wrote her first story at the age of seven, and she walked dogs after school in order to buy her first typewriter.

Merrie returned north to attend the Residential College of the University of Michigan, where she earned a BA in biological anthropology. Her fiction has appeared in Nature, Asimov's Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and Unplugged: The Web's Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy: 2008 Download. She now lives in Saline, Michigan, with her husband and stepdaughter. Merrie works in a library with over seven million books, and she finds this to be just about the right number. She is also the author of The Princess Curse and Handbook for Dragon Slayers.

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