Princess Malva--the Princetta of Galnicia--flees her kingdom and an arranged marriage, only to find herself betrayed by the very man who promised to help her. Orpheus is the son of a sea-captain-turned-pirate and is determined to make a name of his own commanding a ship in Galnicia's royal armada. But when their paths cross on the high seas, so do their destinies. Together the Princetta and Orpheus will travel to edges of the Known World and beyond . . . a journey from which only one of them will return alive. Shipwrecks, shark attacks, barbarians, and mysterious archipelagos await readers in this lavish fantasy-adventure written by one of France's most celebrated authors. (from Goodreads)
My cover is actually different than this one– it has a totally different feel to it, which is probably why I didn’t buy it in the store when I first saw it. This one’s nice, though, and it’s a good match for the story. Mine, however, is kinda, er, badly Photoshopped, with strange font color choices. Covers are a funny thing, eh? I like to see what other countries do for their book covers. For instance, here’s two more cover versions. Anyway.
As soon as I read the prologue, I knew I’d like this book. Strong-willed female lead? Check! A world slightly different to our own, slightly different but still recognizable? Check! Adventure on the horizon? Double check!
I liked Malva, even though she tends to be obstinate and stubborn. I liked most of the characters, in fact, even poor spineless Orpheus. The writing style was perfect: it’s formal enough to bring that air of old-fashioned fairy tale wafting in, but friendly and gentle enough to be engaging. The story itself reminds me of a Greek myth. Something like The Odyssey, maybe– and of course there’s the little thing of Orpheus’ name. And though the plot is a little predicable, I certainly did not expect the ending. It was sad, because of a certainly spoiler-y thing which I don’t want to mention, but I think it fit in with Malva’s characterization. I didn’t expect to be okay with it, but I am.
The only real problem I had with The Princetta was that there were these massive time skips several times throughout the story, and I was never entirely sure how far away I was from the beginning of the story. Made me feel a little lost, and even a little confused.
There are some things in the book that I feel I should mention, because they’re possibly objectionable for younger teens/kids/their parents: suicide, torture, a harem full of kidnapped girls, assassination attempts, fighting (including stabbing and beheading), and death. None of them are explicitly described, and I’m sure that younger kids probably wouldn’t even think that much of them, or even really understand them, but nevertheless I’d recommend the book for maybe…14 and up?
I really did have a fun time reading this. It’s a terrific adventure, with plenty of action and romance and creepy creatures and character growth. And, as it was originally written in French, the translation was fantastic. (I didn’t even notice it was a translation until I read the about-the-author bit.)
Read: January 2009