Title: Princess Ben
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Genre: Fairy Tale
When her parents are assassinated, Princess Benevolence ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. As the late king’s niece, Ben is now the official heir to the throne, but learning princessly manners is the last thing she wants to do. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon an enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts – mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire…. But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat by the neighboring kingdom. Will a pudgy, un-princess-like princess be able to save her kingdom?
I read Princess Ben multiple times when I was thirteen-ish. I forget what originally made me pick it up, but I remember loving the originality of the adventure. When I saw it on the library shelf the other day, I decided to pick it up and see if it was as great as I remembered.
I loved Ben. She’s not a typical princess – fat, obsessed with food, petulant and childish and very, very stubborn. But somehow, I managed to overlook her shortcomings at the beginning of the story. I thought I liked her in the beginning, but she was absolutely awesome by the end.
Queen Sophia was an antagonist who wasn’t all bad. She and Ben butted heads a lot, but half of that was because they were both strong-willed women, and their agendas didn’t agree. Sophia was a good queen, even if she didn’t do very well handling a teenage girl.
Between Ben’s shortcomings as a princess, her education in magic, the problems with Drachensbett (the neighboring country), the threat of marriage, and Ben not getting along with Queen Sophia, the whole plot is delightfully tangled. The magic gets Ben into all sorts of problems, the princes-trying-to-win-the-princess’s-hand plot is nothing like you’d expect, and overall, completely amazing. (I apologize if I’m being vague here, but I’m trying to avoid spoilers.)
Even though this book isn’t exactly short, it’s hard to do a long review of it – at least not without spoilers. It’s separated into four distinct parts, each of which has what seems like its own separate plot, and I’m trying my best not to spoil anything. Because Princess Ben is too good to ruin for you.
Suffice it to say that this is one childhood favorite I still love.