Book Review: Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup
Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup
Published: March 12th 2013 by Candlewick Press
Format: Paper Book
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Fairytale, Princess, Magic, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon
Princess Adela is not a typical princess. She’s neither particularly beautiful nor particularly graceful, and she’d rather spend her days digging new plots for her garden than listening to teatime gossip. But when her friend Garth is invited to a garden party hosted by Lady Hortensia — whose beauty is said to be rivaled only by the loveliness of her gardens — Adela can’t resist coming along, even if it means stuffing herself into a too-tight dress and donning impractical shoes. But the moment Adela sets eyes on Hortensia’s garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom — in the middle of October! Not only that, there is a talking magpie flitting about the garden and stealing the guests’ jewels. Is it possible that Hortensia is a witch and the magpie an enchanted prince? And what of the flowers themselves? Will Adela get to the root of the mystery and nip trouble in the bud before it’s too late?
The little kid in me always gets excited when I pick up a new princess book. It’s the same part of me that still smiles when I see Ariel singing in her cave of treasures or Belle dancing around that huge library. Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup is one such cute and nostalgic tale. This is a good old fairytale complete with princess and evil witch. As is the trend these days, the princess in this tale is a little ordinary, a little plain, and very un-princess like in her love of gardening. Most princess stories go this route in an effort to make their characters standout and take on the ‘not like ordinary girls’ vibe that authors think will make their princess unique. Adela is pretty standard in the anti-princess trope and I didn’t find her too remarkable in her role.
Honestly, I found the supporting characters more interesting. I liked how Kladstrup has Garth and pretty lady-in-waiting Marguerite fall in love at first sight, two good-looking people coming together. I thought it poked fun at the silly princess and prince relationship we often see in fairytales, even if one of them was just a gardener. However, the romance between Adela and Krazo was not any better. I found it shallow and without basis, since he spends most of the book as a magpie and a selfish one at that. Instant-love is typical for fairytales and kind of comes with the territory. The magic is creepy and Hortensia is a great villain. So much so that I wished to have seen more of her. She was a little under developed but she made an appealing antagonist for our princess. The garden with its guarding rose tree and unnerving flowers-who-are-really-not was an intriguing setting.
Overall, the characters were interesting and likeable. The plot is mildly clever but simple and not particularly spellbinding. The setting is great. It’s very well written without slow parts and I was never bored or impatient with events. Some people might find that the ending dragged on, tying up loose ends after the main action has ended, but I really liked this part. Often my complaint is that fairytales chop the ending off and don’t really resolve anything. This book continued with the story after the witch was defeated and gave us a proper happily ever after. Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup was an enjoyable and adorable story that teaches us the value of being beautiful on the inside and that one can always redeem themselves if they truly want to. I much recommend it for a quick, light read.