The Princess Curse

( 31 )

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?

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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?

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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.)
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.
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)

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.
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062008138
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/6/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,448,724
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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 at 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 & 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 the author of The Princess Curse and Handbook for Dragon Slayers.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Enchanting, magical, thrilling!

    The novel centers around a girl named Reveka who is an apprentice to the castle's herbalist. The castle where she works harbors twelve princesses who dance their shoes to pieces each night. There is a huge reward for anyone who can solve the mystery of where they go, but anyone caught spying on the princesses at night either "disappears" or falls into a sleep from which they never awaken. Reveka is desperate to find out where the princesses go so that she can win the dowry and go off to a nunnery to be a herbalist. For all that the book immediately sounds like a new version of THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES, this story only encompasses half the book. For once Reveka manages to follow the princesses and find out what is happening, something HORRIBLE happens.something that changes her life forever. THE PRINCESS CURSE shifts gears and delves deeper, following Reveka on a dangerous journey of her own that I don't really want to spoil for you.

    I adored Reveka and think Haskell is a brilliant new writer. I want more books by her and would love to see more stories set in this world (but the publisher will only request more if THE PRINCESS CURSE sells well, hint hint HINT). I wasn't ready to leave when the last page was turned. It's funny; when I first heard about THE PRINCESS CURSE and saw the book's awesome cover, it was an instant must-read. When I found out that the book would be middle-grade, I decided to borrow it rather than buy it, thinking it might be like other middle-grade fairy tale re-tellings where I'd rather own them in paperback and not pay the hardcover price. As soon as I finished reading this, however, I knew that I needed a copy of my own and had to buy it right away! The novel is middle-grade due to the fact that Reveka is only thirteen. It has a hint of teen in it, though, touching on one word in particular that a child won't understand.and hopefully won't look up in the dictionary. Because the book skews younger, there isn't as much of a romantic element as I like in my fairy tales, but it's open-ended enough that we might get a lot more in a sequel.which I want to read right NOW

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Not just for kids

    In the land of Sylvania there is a... unique curse that falls upon the twelve princesses of that kingdom, every morning the princesses wake up tired and they have their shoes in tatters as if they where dancing all night, but they never left their room. There is a reward for anyone who can break the curse and this is where Reveka comes in, she is the child of a soldier and an herbalist apprentice how fights not only to break the curse in hopes of gaining the money to get into a convent and be an herbalist there. But much awaits little Reveka in her journey to save the princesses for not everyone is playing a fair game.
    When I started to read this book my thoughts where this is a child's book so it's just an easy read and a quick way to pass time, but boy was i wrong this book is really something, it has a touch of the grim brother, a dash of Greek mythology and a pinch of the beauty and the beast.
    And for a book that is bound to end up in the childrens section of all library's and bookstores please don't be afraid to give it a go, it's worth your time.
    Reveka is a wonderful heroine smart, talented and well intended thirteen year old girl; and even thought the story moves fast it doesn't really make you loose interest for when one mystery is solve there is another coming right at you.

    Warning: As it's been mentioned this is a children's book and the only thing I would like to warn the parents is that in this book they make reference twice to the feared question of "where do baby's come from?".

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Recommended

    I really liked this book and hope there is a sequel

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2012

    I enjoyed this book and would recommend it but it really needs a

    I enjoyed this book and would recommend it but it really needs a sequel and was clearly written with that in mind.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    A great all around book! I enjoyed every bit of it. It kept chan

    A great all around book! I enjoyed every bit of it. It kept changing to a very unexpected ending. Will please just about any young reader who is enterested in great literiture.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    It was cute.

    I thought it was a great twist on the twelve dancing princesses. I've never read a version told from such a unique perspective. My only struggle with the book was that it left so many unanswered questions. I hope the author is planning on a follow up book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2012

    Soooooo Awesome

    A crossover with the 12 dancing princesses and Beautty and the Beast, taking place in post midealil times in a small european country. Echos romanian words and Pagan and Christian beliefs, thus making it relatable. The 'beast' in B& the B is really charming after a while...enjoy!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2012

    Love it!

    It is soooo good!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    My Favorite!!!

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    PERFECT

    Love it. Totally awesome!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Love it

    One of my favorite books! Buy it u will love it!!!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    Entwined vs. Princess Curse

    Entwined is just 12 dancing princess's with an evil mix. This is beauty and the beast with 12 dancing princess's with a greek mytgology mix! This is great!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    1000

    Fun

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Amazing!

    This book is amazing! It was so good I could'nt set it down and at night i'll thing about it all the time! Kidding! I have'nt even opened the book yet but it sounds pretty good and I wish I could read the whole thing but I can only get free samples and my parents won't buy books for me even though I have like 400 and something books in my library

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2013

    Really enjoyed it

    I really enjoyed this book, because it has the feel of 12 dancing princesses d like entwined it has many twists and turns LOVED IT

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013

    Stop!

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    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 16, 2012

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews

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