cover image The Runaway Princess

The Runaway Princess

Kate Coombs, . . FSG, $17 (279pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35546-3

In this parody of traditional fairy tale motifs, first-time novelist Coombs introduces a host of comical heroes, heroines, villains and buffoons. Meg, the only daughter of King Stomgard and Queen Istilda, is not your ordinary princess. She detests frilly dresses and would rather chase frogs than learn to embroider. What 15-year-old Meg hates most is being "sequestered" in a tower while princes from far and wide contend for her hand in marriage. The contest consists of three tasks: slaying a dragon, hunting down a witch and ridding the kingdom of bandits. Employing her wits, agility, and quite a lot of help from Cam, the gardener's boy, and Dilly, the princess's personal maid, Meg manages to escape her prison and embark on the wildest adventure of her life. Her goal is to beat the royal contenders at their own game and thus avoid matrimony. Meg's quest to stay one step ahead of her suitors is sure to keep readers entertained, especially when the dragon, witch and bandits turn out to be far more amiable than the vain "bread-for-brains" princes, and Meg receives magical trinkets that enable her to perform some interesting tricks. Reminiscent of Shrek and Once Upon a Mattress , this pleasingly twisty tale offers rib-tickling surprises around every corner. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)