04 August 2012

Iron Hearted Violet; Kelly Barnhill

 Iron Hearted Violet Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn't quite a fractured fairy tale, but there are so many familiar elements that it could almost be one.

Violet is (most emphatically) not a beautiful princess, with frizzy unmanageable hair, splotchy skin and eyes that don't match in size and color, but none of that seems to matter. She has one friend, Demetrius, and lives in the castle with her parents. One day, while exploring, she and Demetrius find a hidden room, with a dusty book and a very odd, very disturbing painting.

In her world there are twelve gods, but somehow she hears about a thirteenth - although everyone denies that one exists. There used to be dragons, but they've all died or disappeared - although there seems to be one, and her father (and Demetrius) set out to capture it. While they're gone, she starts exploring again and rediscovers this room. Turns out there is a thirteenth god and he's a little cranky (and mad... and dangerous).

The idea of the not-at-all beautiful princess, dragons and so forth are interesting twists on the usual themes. Where the book lost me was at the ending, which seemed to be faster paced than the rest of the book yet filed with more action than the earlier parts. The ending owes a lot to C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, which really does require a slower pace to understand.

ARC provided by publisher.

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