Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
When Thad offers his soul in exchange for the safety of his sister, Ari, Thad becomes king and Ari becomes the princess she never wanted to be. Ari learns of the deal that Thad made with the Wish Granter and knows that Thad put his life and the safety of his people at risk. She recruits the help of Thad's new weapons master, Sebastian, to teach her how to fight the Wish Granter. When they get caught, Ari offers her own soul to keep the people she loves safe. She and Sebastian have to use their wits and their growing love for each other to defeat the Wish Granter for good.
This dark take on the story of Rumpelstiltskin takes place in the same world as the first book, but readers don't need to have read The Shadow Queen to read this follow-up. Ari is a refreshing character, a curvy warrior who uses her intelligence and skills to take on her challenges. The kingdom is full of poverty, crime, and drugs, making it feel modern and approachable even though it takes place in a fantasy world. Some of the characters and their relationships with each other felt underdeveloped. The reader doesn't get to know the characters as well as they would like to for a book of this length; however, the interactions between the characters are still strong enough to work. This story has plenty of magic, heartbreak, and witty dialogue for readers of YA fantasy to enjoy.
*Contains moderate violence.