Sleeping Beauty gets a feisty, furry twist in this hilarious new comic series from the creator of Dragonbreath
Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She may be quite stunning in the rodent realm (you'll have to trust her on this one), but she is not so great at trailing around the palace looking ethereal or sighing a lot. She finds the royal life rather . . . dull. One day, though, Harriet's parents tell her of the curse that a rat placed on her at birth, dooming her to prick her finger on a hamster wheel when she's twelve and fall into a deep sleep. For Harriet, this is most wonderful news: It means she's invincible until she's twelve! After all, no good curse goes to waste. And so begins a grand life of adventure with her trusty riding quail, Mumfrey...until her twelfth birthday arrives and the curse manifests in a most unexpected way.
Perfect for fans of Babymouse and Chris Colfer's Land of Stories, this laugh-out-loud new comic hybrid series will turn everything you thought you knew about princesses on its head.
About the Author
Ursula Vernon is a full-time author and illustrator whose work has won a Hugo award and been nominated for an Eisner. She loves birding, gardening, and spunky heroines, and thinks she would make a terrible princess. Ursula lives with her husband in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
Read an Excerpt
Once upon a time, in a distant land, there was a beautiful princess named Harriet Hamsterbone, who, as her name indicated, was a hamster.
She was brave and intelligent and excelled in traditional hamster princess skills, like checkers and fractions.
She was not very good at trailing around the palace looking ethereal and sighing a lot, which are also traditional princess skills, but her parents hired deportment teachers to try and make up for it.
Her deportment teacher tried to make her walk around with a book on her head to improve her posture. He was later found in the library with a book stuffed in his mouth, and Harriet was grounded for a month.
She loved her riding quail Mumfrey, and rode him all over the countryside. Riding quail can’t actually fly, but they make excellent steeds for hamsters. Harriet and Mumfrey rode everywhere pretending to slay monsters, since her parents would not actually let her go out to slay real dragons. This was a source of great disappointment for her.
Despite being kept away from monsters, Harriet was generally happy and not as irritating as some princesses. Yet her mom and dad were often depressed, for they knew that a dark cloud hung over the princess, and indeed, the very kingdom.
For when the princess was only twelve days old, on the day she was to be christened, a dreadful curse had been placed upon her, and despite their best efforts, the hamster king and queen had no idea how to break it.
The Christening: Ten Years Earlier
On the day of the princess’s christening, everyone in the palace and many of the most important people in the kingdom had come out to witness the ceremony.
No expense had been spared. In the usual Hamsterbone tradition, there were dukes and earls and a marquess, which is something like a marquis, and several viscounts and one regular count and even a praetor. (The praetor had taken a wrong turn some weeks ago while hunting. He didn’t know what the hamsters were talking about, but had heard something about free food. Praetors are elected officials in certain kinds of kingdoms, and they never pass up free meals.)
And of course there were three fairy god-mice, to administer the blessings, and the princess herself.
The assembled crowd shrank back when the wicked fairy appeared, for it was immediately obvious to all that this was no ordinary fairy, but in fact the wicked Ratshade, who had placed third on Fairy God-Mouse Today’s Most Wicked List for eleven years running. Rumor had it that she was a bit bitter about her inability to move up the list, and had been planning something big.
Ratshade was tall and thin, and her fingernails were so long that they curved in strange rippling claws and made it very difficult for her to blow her nose without causing herself serious injury. Her fur was as white as bone, her eyes were red, and she had a stump for a tail, because she had traded her tail for power when she was young. (This is a thing that rats can do, although most of them are very attached to their tails and wouldn’t dream of parting with them.)
Ratshade stomped across the dais toward the bassinet that contained the princess. Two fairy god-mice cowered back, but the youngest clutched the back of the bassinet, prepared to snatch the princess away if Ratshade tried to grab her.
But Ratshade did not touch the princess. She only gazed down at her, clicking her long nails together, and then she laughed, a laugh like bones clattering down a hole in the dark.
“Very well!” said the wicked fairy. “Very well! She is twelve days old today? Well, when she is twelve years old, she shall prick her finger upon a hamster wheel and fall into a sleep like death!”
Ratshade vanished in a cloud of oily smoke that smelled like burning hair, and the inhabitants of the kingdom looked at one another in dismay. The princess was cursed!
What can we possibly do?” cried the dukes.
“There’s nothing we can do!” cried the earls.
“Very difficult to break, fairy curses,” said the marquess.
“They come true no matter what,” said the viscounts.
“They’ll bend the world around them and make themselves come true,” said the regular count.
“Maybe the other fairies can do something,” said the praetor, helping himself to the buffet.
Everyone stared at him.
“Brilliant!” cried the dukes and the earls and the marquess and the viscounts and the regular count. “We never would have thought of that!”
“I can’t believe my empire never conquered yours when we had the chance,” muttered the praetor into his sandwich.
So the three fairy god-mice put their heads together, while the hamster queen tried to comfort the princess, who had slept through the entire thing and did not actually need comforting.
“Right!” said the oldest of the fairy god-mice. “We cannot break Ratshade’s curse, O King Hamsterbone, but we can alter it a little. I have changed the curse so that when the princess falls asleep, she shall not need either food or drink while she is sleeping.”
“I guess that’s useful,” said the queen.
“What about bathrooms?” asked the king. “I mean, I always have to get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, so—”
“No bathrooms either,” said the oldest fairy god-mouse, and gave the king a very stern look.
“And I,” said the middle god-mouse, “have changed the curse so that at the moment it takes effect, enormous thorny briars shall grow up around the princess’s tower, so that no one can get in.”
“Um,” said the king. “That . . . doesn’t sound quite so useful.”
“Tough,” said the middle fairy god-mouse, annoyed. “It’s already cast.”
The hamster king and queen sighed, and turned to the third god-mouse without much hope.
“So what did you do?” asked the king. “Set the palace on fire? Turn her into a snowflake or a chicken or something?”
Excerpted from "Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible"
Copyright © 2017 Ursula Vernon.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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