Review: “Princess of Glass” by Jessica Day George

For the love of books

The sequel to Princess of the Midnight BallPrincess of Glass is based on a more popular fairy tale and has a storyline independent from its predecessor with the exception of familiar characters and settings re-appearing within the story.  This time the spotlight is transferred from Princess Rose of Westfalin to her younger sister, Princess Poppy.

Three years have passed since the culmination of the events in Princess of the Midnight Ball.  Poppy is now sixteen and as extraordinary a princess as Rose.  Currently a guest in Breton due to alliances made all over Ionia in an effort to maintain international peace, Poppy accustoms herself to living with her elegant relatives, Lady Margaret Seadown and her family.  The reputation of Westfalin’s royal family precedes Poppy with unsettling rumors about her sisters’ past, but Poppy establishes herself to be unconventional despite common belief.  From her constant refusal to dance to her knack for playing card games, Poppy manages to attract attention wherever she goes.  Prince Christian also suffers from the same problem.  He could be called a fine re-creation of “Prince Charming,” except that he is not like other princes, being more mature and thoughtful.  Like Poppy, Christian has been sent from Danelaw (a kingdom quite analogous to Denmark) in order to form strong bonds with other kingdoms.  Moreover, his overprotective parents and King Rupert of Breton expect Christian to be royally married by the time he returns home.

However suspicious he is of Poppy and her background, Christian can’t help his friendship with Poppy and her cousin Marianne.  His growing admiration and respect for the feisty princess is suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Poppy’s rival for his affections—a beautiful lady who magically appears at all the royal functions and suddenly departs.  The stranger’s continued anonymity under the pseudonym “Lady Eleanora” is nourished by a mask of mystery and pretense, and she literally casts a trance over all men and women who see her.  Only Poppy and a new friend named Richard seem to recognize the imposter for who she really is.  “Lady Eleanora” is actually Eleanor Parke-Whittington, or Ellen Parker as she now calls herself.  Ellen was the daughter of an earl who bankrupted.  After both of her parents died, she was forced to earn her living as a servant.  Hiding her shame and pain behind her false name, Ellen still manages to fail at her position; her lack of skills and infamous clumsiness have endangered any possibility of adjustment to her new lifestyle.  Poppy and Richard realize that magic and scurrilous enchantment by means of a third persona must be involved in Ellen’s metamorphosis from servant girl to grand lady.  They are determined to save Breton from its involuntary addiction to Ellen and prevent Christian from falling under Ellen’s spell, since all Ellen’s efforts seem to be directed at attaining Christian’s hand in marriage.

Never before has the fairy tale of Cinderella received such a retelling and novel twist.  For the first time, the character of Cinderella is portrayed as a spoiled orphan with noble origins who is forced to belong to the working class out of necessity.  Her “fairy godmother” is now an evil magical creature called the Corley, whose intentions toward Ellen are neither kind nor unselfish. Moreover, the heroine of the story turns out to be Poppy, not Cinderella.  With three romantic pairs of characters in the storyline as opposed to just Cinderella and her “Prince Charming,” the novel takes some exciting turns for Ellen and Poppy.  The author presents a happy ending for all of her characters and a few surprises along the way.  The further expansion of her world of Ionia introduces more analogies to post-Renaissance European countries; her characters, old and new, still are as original as in Princess of the Midnight Ball.

The most intriguing part of Princess of Glass is how Jessica Day George transforms not only Cinderella herself but also the entire tale into dark semblances of their former selves.  The creation of the glass slippers (there are more than one pair), the reason for the cinders, and other famous details from the original all have new meaning in Princess of Glass.  While this sequel has somber qualities like Princess of the Midnight Ball, it is just as entertaining and captivating with its author’s unique perception of a classic fairy tale.

Original review: Part 3: Jessica Day George’s storytelling is exceptionalPart 4: Jessica Day George’s storytelling is exceptionalPart 5: Jessica Day George’s storytelling is exceptional, Examiner.com

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