marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Wide-Awake Princess

The Wide-Awake Princess by E. D. Baker, and its sequel Unlocking the Spell.

Once upon a time, there were a king and queen whose first daughter, Gwendolyn, had been cursed to death, mitigated only to a sleep of a hundred years, to be broken by the princely kiss of her true love.  So when they had another daughter, Annabella, they beg a fairy godmother to protect her.  The fairy godmother gives her magical anti-magic powers, so that she does not receive all the traditional gifts of beauty, grace, etc, and furthermore, anyone she touches loses their magical attributes.  Such as princessly beauty from a fairy godmother. . . .

She grows up in odd corners, where her magic can't do much harm, and is called Annie because Annabella sounds ridiculous for her, but when a spinning wheel brings a curse, despite all precautions, Annie is the only one left awake.  Unwilling to just let things go, she sets out in hopes of finding princes who might qualify, and break the curse early.  In the woods, after an unpleasant adventure with a senile witch who has children and cages in her cottage, she meets up with Liam, a guard who had been outside the castle and searches in earnest with his help.

It involves a prince whose stepmother had given his children by his dead wife to a woodcutter, a contest to determine which princess is the most fitting bride, blackmailing a fairy with antimagical threats, and then doing it again with another fairy, a badger who bites, a princess whose true love is actually the one who made her laugh, and Annie being made to sleep on twenty-two mattresses at one castle.  Among other things.

With the sequel, Annie and others set out on another magic-spell-breaking quest.  They are on the hunt for a dwarf who transforms people into animals -- as it turns out, on the slightest and most unjust provocation.  It involves porridge, finding a fairy godmother busy getting a charge ready for the ball, a lying fish, a bridge of jewels, a town of ogres, a field filled with not cattle but minotaurs, and two riding hoods, only one red.
Tags: children's books, fiction reviews: children's fantasy, fiction reviews: fairy tale based

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