Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George


Princess of the Silver Woods
#3 in the Princess series
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Pages: 336
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page

Summary

From Goodreads:

When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse.

The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.


Review

Oh, expectations...

I loved Princess of the Midnight Ball, the first installment in this series, so much that I'm always trying to shove it into some unsuspecting reader's hands. The second book, Princess of Glass was enjoyable, but I didn't love it as much as the first. Still, it's fun and both can be read as standalones, so I'm often recommending both to my tween and teen readers.

Sadly, and after much bated-breath anticipation, I have to come to terms with the fact that Princess of the Silver Woods is the weakest of the bunch for me. I'll still order a copy for my library, but I don't think it will get passed around as much as the other Jessica Day George books I've ordered.

Who do I give this book to?

First, there's the question of age. The two earlier books were sweet and light enough that I can easily give them to middle grade readers. They're also both layered enough that they hold the interest of teen and older readers (particularly the first book centering on eldest sister Rose).

Princess of the Silver Woods reads much younger. I'm not sure many of my teen and older readers would enjoy it as much as they did the earlier installments. I'm thinking I'll be passing this to tweens more often than teens. And as for myself, I was definitely feeling the, "This book is for younger readers and I'm bored now" vibe. (And for the record, I hate that vibe because it makes me feel old.)

The second question is whether or not I should give it to readers who have not read the earlier books in the series. And, ok, it's not much of a question because of course I'll provide the earlier books, if for no other reason than they're good books that should be read. But, is it necessary to read them in order? I'm not so sure it is.

I'm of course coming from the perspective of having read the earlier books, but I think Jessica Day George does a more than adequate job of recapping previous events, especially the events from the first book (and the events from the second book don't have much of an impact on this story). Readers unfamiliar with books one and two shouldn't have much difficulty understanding and enjoying book three.

I might even go so far as to say that readers who haven't read the first book may even enjoy Princess of the Silver Woods more than those who have read the whole series. Which brings me to one of my biggest complaints.

Haven't I already read this book?

In the first book, the King Under Stone is wreaking havoc on the sisters' lives by magically forcing them to travel to his kingdom every night and dance with his sons, to whom the princesses are bethrothed. The princesses fight this evil with the help of a handsome man who falls in love with oldest sister Rose.

In Princess of the Silver Woods, the new King Under Stone is weraking havoc on the sisters' lives by magically forcing them to travel to his kingdom and dance with his brothers, with whom the princesses are expected to have children. The princesses fight this evil with the help of a handsome man who falls in love with youngest sister Petunia.

Notice any similarities? Now, ok, not everything is exactly the same, but it felt way too similar to Princess of the Midnight Ball to really hold my interest. I was expecting a whole new story, not a reworking of a story I had already read.

Other disappointments

The characters felt really under-developed. I had very little idea of what set Petunia apart from her sisters (none of which were particularly distinct) and while Oliver felt a little more defined, his personality didn't seem entirely consistent (he lays down everything to protect his people and then tosses it all away in a second because of love for a girl he just met??)

The only solid character trait I could come up with for Petunia is that she's frustratingly slow when it comes to puzzling things out. Though I would love to attribute that complaint to my super awesome powers of deduction, I don't think I can take credit here. The bad guy was RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER FACE and she kept saying, "Oh no, but they're so nice!" and then not even investigating things (how do you not investigate things?!).

And, I mean, it's not like we needed Nancy Drew to solve this mystery. It was pretty much stated as fact. I'm totally baffled as to why Petunia refused to consider the possibility, let alone actually acknowledge the obvious truth. I didn't like feeling so exasperated with her and I really didn't like reading her repetitive denials throughout the whole book (right up until she did something REALLY dumb, and for an equally incomprehensible reason).

So where did the stars come from?

Because I love Jessica Day George's books. They're just so fluffy and sweet. I may not have been able to tell the sisters apart, but I loved their banter and the way they always supported one another. Her books are easy to read and they make me happy. Jessica Day George is the ultimate comfort read author.

They're like the book equivalent to a puppy. Even when puppies do something bad or are kind of scruffy looking, they're still adorable puppies and I can't help but love them.

Bottom line

Not the strongest book and not something I'll buy for myself. I do think it will be popular enough with my middle grade girls to warrant placing a library order though.

Read it as a standalone or as a part of the series. Skip the middle book or read all three. Just don't expect something BRAND NEW or super deep and Princess of the Silver Woods should still be able to deliver as a quick, fun, sweet comfort read.


Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 


Do you have any questions about Princess of the Silver Woods that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!



Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

Click on the covers to go to my reviews.

12 comments:

  1. I only read one of George's books, Dragon Slippers, which I thought was okay and I'll admit that I wasn't a big fan of dragons. I've been eyeing her Princess books so I think I'll give the first one a shot and maybe stop there. Too bad this one didn't offer anything new. Love the cover though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved Dragon Slippers, but I think it did read a bit younger than Princess of the Midnight Ball. I would highly recommend reading the first book, and you can easily stop with it if you decide not to continue on.

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  2. You just made me happy that I didn't request the book for review.
    I love MG books and all but I don't like when a book reads "young" and it sounds like this wasn't much of a winner.

    *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol, I love it when reviews make me feel better about not requesting/getting rejected! This was a good book, but I think it fell short in comparison to the other books she's written. Does that make sense?

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  3. Nicely reviewed. I was able to buy the first two book for my kindle today for each $1.54. Knowing you like them both so much I'm excited I scored such a good deal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That IS a great deal! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, especially the first one. I love the imagery of the silver woods (you'll see).

      Delete
  4. Well, that is a little disappointing. I haven't read the author's work yet, but I think I'll stick to the first two.

    Great, honest review!

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    Replies
    1. Definitely check out the first two for sure. It's not that this one was bad, not at all, it just didn't stack up to the first for me.

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  5. I adored Princess at the Midnight Ball as well, but you're the second person I've heard say that Silver Woods feels aimed at a much younger audience and is lackluster by comparison :( I'll probably still check it out at the library. But I seem to be having trouble finding middle grade books that are complex enough to hold my interest.

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's worth a library read. If for nothing else it's a sweet JDG story.

      Have you read...

      The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
      The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
      The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
      The Theodosia books by R. L. LaFevers (she also wrote Grave Mercy)
      The Pendragon Adventure by D. J. MacHale
      The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
      The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

      Those are among my favorite MG books that I think make good YA crossovers.

      Delete
  6. I had very similar thoughts on this one! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we were totally aligned! Loved you review :)

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