In her very clever debut novel The Princess Curse, author Merrie Haskell recasts the classic story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and comes up with a highly entertaining mix of of fantasy, history, snappy dialogue, plants, classical references, and intrigue. Once begun, this novel is almost impossible to put down.
The Princess Curse stars 13-year-old Reveka, an herbalists' apprentice in a cursed castle in 15th century eastern Europe, who shows fierce intelligence, wit and grit as she battles what she sees as “the stupidest curse in existence! So what if the princesses are sleepy during the day, and their slippers are holey in the morning? It’s a curse of shoes and naps.” Breaking it, however, turns out to be quite a challenge, even for extraordinarily plucky Reveka. On her quest to win a huge reward, she meets a shadowy stranger, travels to the Underworld, and encounters a terrifying "zmeu," a dragon with a human form. The book is for readers about age 10 and up.
Happily for us around Ann Arbor, the author lives here and “works in a library with more than 7 million books, “ according to the book jacket, “and she finds this to be just about the right number.” She recently did a local reading at the U-M Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. I hope she does more readings and writes more books.