Well! I said that I wanted to do some book reviews so I decided to kick it off with a book called, Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle. Stop! Don’t click away just yet. It sounds a bit juvenile but I thought it was a fairly cute story. It wasn’t without it’s flaws for sure but let me give you my run down.
Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle by Pepper Thorn
Published by Typing Cat Press, 2011
This fairy tale centers on a young princess named Rose who has been cursed. Everyone who meets her instantly falls in love with her. There is not a soul in the world who is immune. Though her curse bothers Rose, it’s effects don’t really start to weigh on her until her sixteenth birthday. The minutes she is old enough Princes literally trip over themselves asking for her hand in marriage.
However, because she can never really be sure if their love is true and not curse invoked, Rose rejects all her suitors. One by one all her princes leave heartbroken. Except for one. The handsome and mysterious Prince Raven whisks her away in the night through a magic mirror to his icy kingdom. From there Rose learns that his people and kingdom are cursed too and he needs marriage to a princess in order to lift it. Not everything is as it seems though and it becomes abundantly clear that Raven isn’t telling her everything. With her only ally being a mute pageboy named Mouse, she must find a way to escape Raven’s beautiful but dangerous kingdom.
I enjoyed several things about Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle. The first being the world it’s set in. Author Pepper Thorn has done a magnificent job in creating several different kingdoms and cultures. During the princes’ entrance you get a fun sense of the places they come from. One comes in a la Howl’s Moving Castle complete with a house on chicken legs. I found the plot itself intriguing. It includes a mad king, missing mothers, tragic deaths, and an overabundance of magic mirrors. It had a vibe that reminded me very much of the Hades and Persephone myth.
Surprisingly, breaking Rose’s curse is never the focus of the story though it does directly cause many of her problems. Though in a pivotal moment, her curse ends up helping her instead. Nice little twist if you ask me. There’s an underlying foreboding feeling that permeates the book as it becomes more and more clear that Raven isn’t being entirely truthful. It builds and builds until you know that something is definitely dangerously wrong.
The Not-so Good
Unfortunately, with the good there comes the bad. The plot and set up is standard fare when it comes to fairy tales for sure and, admittedly, a bit cliched. However, it wouldn’t be a fairy tale without a few cliches so I’m willing to forgive them. What I really can’t forgive is the fact that the story ends without any real sense of finality. Several major story threads aren’t tied up at all which left me a little irritated. The book’s description on Amazon lists it as “book one.” However, a search for any subsequent books proved to be unsuccessful and with this book first being published in 2011 I don’t hold much hope for a continuation.
The second thing that bothered me about Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle was the length. It clocks in at an incredibly short 28,000 words (132 pages). I finished it within hours. Normally I don’t find this a problem. This time, however, I felt as though it left a lot underdeveloped. Rose is a bit bland as a character and feels like more of a bag of stock character traits. I didn’t really get a lot of insight into her character other than a handful of moments when she felt betrayed by Raven for various things. The story itself also feels a bit rushed in places, especially towards the end. The final confrontation with the antagonist goes by so quickly that it seems as though it’s a mere formality.
Summing it All Up
All and all, I thought Princess Rose and the Crystal Castle was a whimsical quick read. The overall tone gives a foreboding and ominous feeling that really kept me on the edge of my seat. However, it could’ve wrapped itself up a little nicer. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. It’s fairly inexpensive at $2.99 USD. However, if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free. The author also has the first chapter posted on Wattpad as a free sample if you want to check it out there.
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