The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Do you have an aspiring princess in your house?  Before you start worrying if the royal family has any eligible princes of the right age, satisfy an obsession by checking out some princess books.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing royalty and letting you know which princesses are worthy of their titles.

In The Two Princesses of Bamarre, when Princess Meryl falls ill with the always fatal Grey Death, there is no need for a prince to come to her rescue.  Her sister, Princess Addie, is determined to overcome her fears in order to save the day.  Equipped with her sister’s sword,  her long deceased mother’s seven-league boots and a magic tablecloth from her crush – a sorcerer – Addie heads out to face dragons, gryphons, ogres and spectres in hopes of finding a cure.

Although this book lists itself as for ages 8-12, I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t appeal to teens as well.  The vocabulary is varied, there’s a sweet little side plot love story, the main character is a teen herself so there really is no need for an upper limit.  I would consider it very challenging for a third grader, probably best for an advanced fourth grader or a fifth grader.

Great for: Anyone who’s looking for a strong female lead.  The girls are definitely able to hold their own in this one.  Awesome princess book does not need to be a contradiction in terms.

This is also a probable hit with fans of Gail Carson Levine.  While certainly a bit more bloody than her Nobel Honor book, Ella Enchanted it shares a similar sense of adventure and fun.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – several kisses, a bit of hand holding and a marriage
Profanity – None
Death, Violence and Gore – Oh my.  To start off, as is befitting a fairy tale, the mother is long dead.  The main premise of the book is that a cure must be found for the Grey Death, a plague that is “slaughtering hundreds” in the kingdom of Bamarre.  Bamarre is evidently in a rough state, as it also is under siege by the following: dragons, gryphons, ogres, spectres.  Long before our story began there was a hero called Drualt who fought and vanquished many of these evil-doers.  A book has been written to pay tribute.  In this book (which is oft-quoted) there are all kinds of gory bits – gryphons feasting on living flesh, knights bones gnawed white, maiden’s bones charred black.  There is also a certain amount of death to dragons, gryphons, and ogres as Addie undertakes her quest.  It is not a bloodless situation and in a dragon’s cave she also comes upon the remains of those who preceded her.  Whether all of this amounts to “EW, GROSS” or nightmares will vary from child to child.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – Not unless you count smoke from a dragon!
Frightening or Intense Things – The goriest bits, the parts out of the story of Drualt are not particularly scary as they don’t relate to characters that we are invested in.  There is a certain amount of tension built as Meryl becomes more ill and Addie’s time is running out.  HUGE SPOILER ALERT: Meryl dies. She’s turned into a fairy, so her life continues in a different way, but for some this may be upsetting.

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3 Responses to The Two Princesses of Bamarre

  1. gideonfrog says:

    I read a lot of kids’ books for my own pleasure, and I had some trouble getting into this one, in spite of being a Gail Carson Levine fan. I think that Addie’s fears seemed a little overplayed to me at the beginning, which I don’t think would be a problem for age-appropriate readers.

    But if you’re doing princesses, oh, do Princess Academy! One of my absolute favorites. I love stories where being a princess is associated with things like trade agreements and sorting out feuds between your shepherds and farmers.

    • Mrs. N says:

      Princess Academy is definitely on the list, although it probably won’t be until next week.

      I really loved Two Princesses of Bamarre the first time I read it, maybe because I’m a super wimp like Addie. In the re-read, I wasn’t quite so enamored, although I still think I like it better than Ever for young readers, but maybe not quite as much as Ella Enchanted or Fairest.

  2. I luv this book says:

    A great book! One of my favorites. Has changed my entire view of fairy tales! I recommend this one and Ever, also by this author.

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