cover image The Princess Curse

The Princess Curse

Merrie Haskell. Harper, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-200813-8

Debut author Haskell has her way with the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” incorporating references to other myths and legends and adding many twists of her own, not least of which is making the royals’ attempted rescuer a strong-willed, 13-year-old apprentice herbalist, Reveka. In her opinion, the curse that has befallen Prince Vasile’s 12 daughters is “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.” Nonetheless, when Vasile offers the hand of any of his daughters in marriage to anyone who banishes the curse (or a “fabulous dowry” if the curse-breaker is female), Reveka is determined to win the reward. Her search intensifies when a fellow herbalist’s family is affected by the curse, and war threatens, but Reveka soon realizes that herbs, magic, and spirit are no match for the deep roots of this mystery. With a good sense of humor, an able and empowered protagonist, and a highly original take on this tale, Haskell’s story gives readers much to enjoy. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)