Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Gail Carson Levine
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine is a prequel to her earlier novel The Two Princesses of Bamarre. In this story, Levine retells the story of Rapunzel. Like Rapunzel, Peregrine's father steals from the garden of a rich woman to feed the new baby. The woman takes the baby, as well as her older sister. Raised as a Lakti noble with her older sister as her maid, Perry believes the Bamarre, her birth people, are cowardly and weak. She does not know the truth until a fairy reveals her true heritage. Once her surrogate father finds out, he casts Perry in a tower prison, where the fairy makes her hair grow to incredible lengths. Once she escapes, she lives with her real family as a Bamarre under the fairy disguise of an old woman. The whole time, she plots to free the Bamarre from the unjust rule of the Lakti.
Once again, Levine takes us into a world of fairy tales re-imagined in this story. It retains a few elements of the original story, but has an entire plot line different from the original tale. It is reminiscent of ancient Spartan and Roman empires, as the Lakti children are raised as warriors, bred to excel at all physical activity, while the Bamarre are quieter people who prefer poetry and traditions. A fascinating aspect of the novel is how Perry learns both cultures. Being raised as a noble among the Lakti, her transition to Bamarre is difficult. She learns to hold her tongue, mind her manners, and remember rhymed proverbs that must be repeated. Also, during her time as a Bamarre, she lives as Aunt Nadia, an old woman, so that she will not be recognized by her adopted father. However, because this transition takes nearly half the novel, she is an old woman throughout most of the book, and some may find it disconcerting. Overall, it is another masterpiece written by Levine.
*Contains mild violence.