Princess Ben Book reviews

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Author(s): Catherine Gilbert MurdockDownload  

Description: 

“My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man–no man I would ever want to meet, surely–could fit his hands round my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm…”
Benevolence is not your typical princess–and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.
With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?

Some Reviews: 1331 in Goodreads.com

Elysse

Elysse rated it     

I wish I could give half stars because this book deserves four and a half. As the inside jacket says, this isn’t your ordinary fairy tale. Princess Ben (short for Benevolence), is a whiny, overweight, spirited girl who recently mourns the loss of her parents. Her country is threatened by a neighboring kingdom, who claim no part in the murdering of the king and Ben’s parents. Orphaned, Ben is put under her strict aunt’s wings, Queen Sophie. Completely miserable, locked up and starved until she can behave properly, Ben has many unforgettable experiences that may be familiar to fairy tale lovers.
The only reason that this book did not get a 5 star rating is because I feel like the author forgot to mention/ wrap up a few points in the epilogue (MAJOR pet peeve of mine. If you have an epilogue, DO IT RIGHT DARN IT!!!)

Allison

Allison rated it     

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. First let me say that I’m not a fan of these realistic book covers, which seem to be all the rage recently. I much prefer the more artistic covers that allow me to imagine what the main character etc. look like. I’m also usually a little skeptical of fairy tale retellings because it seems that they can so easily go awry.

This one, however, did not. Yay! Murdock takes all the most familiar parts of the princess fairytales (the tower, the sleep-enchanted princess, the glass coffin, the wicked step-mother) and skillfully adapts and transforms them. Ben is a feisty and independent main character who is able to take charge of her own destiny and her own story. And while she is spoiled at the beginning of the story (as some of the reviews have complained), that is the whole point. Plus, it makes her a refreshingly complex and multi-faceted character.

I’m also a big fan of Murdock’s narrative style, which sounds a lot like the epistolary novels of the 16th and 17th centuries. It started off a little strong, but either I got used to it or it became less self-conscious as the story went on. Murdock includes all kinds of challenging vocabulary in her narrative, and I think it’s wonderful to challenge teen readers that way.

So the moral of this story is: “don’t judge a book by its cover!” I have to tell myself that repeatedly, and I’m glad Princess Ben had a chance to prove its importance to me one more time.

Valerie

Valerie rated it      

After reading Dairy Queen and The Off Season by this same author I really had no idea what to expect in this book. The transition to fantasy seemed easy. I still enjoyed this book after the second time I read it. I like Ben and enjoyed seeing her grow from a self-pitying but soft-hearted girl to a determined ruler.

I’ve always liked fairy-tales and if anything this book has made me like them even more. Ben is a dynamic protagonist. She was not raised as a real princess so she is more relatable. And although she is uncooperative and self-piying in the beginning I could understand, because she lost her parents and is just thrown into her new princess duties without warning. Plus she is not treated with much sympathy.

There are a few tidbits of other fairy tales such as sleeping beauty, the princess and the pea, and jack and the beanstalk. There’s also magic, a prince, disguise (my favorite) and so much more.

Darla

Darla rated it     

(Genre:Teen Fiction/fantasy) I really enjoyed this fairy tale. It is about the adventures of the princess “Ben” (Benevolence). Princess Ben finds herself next in line for the throne of her kingdom after the unexpected and tragic death of the king (her uncle). Her mother perishes in the same incident as the king and Ben’s father (the younger brother of the king) is missing. Queen Sophia (her aunt) turns Ben’s life upside down as she strives to turn Ben into the future ruler. I really enjoyed Ben’s personal journey as she awakens to what she is and what she needs to become. I didn’t buy into the part where she is in disguise (I don’t think those types of deceptions are so easy to pull off), but I did like where it took the story and where it took her personally. My favorite quote comes at the end of the story when Ben is describing how most fairy tales end with the phrase “happily ever after”.

“…the girl who reads such fiction dreaming her troubles will end ere she departs the alter is well advised to seek at once a rational woman to set her straight.”

A fun and entertaining read.

Christine

Christine rated it     

I really liked this book. Until the end, but I’ll get to that later. I love novelizations of fairy tales, and this was a good one with a bit of a twist. It was part Sleeping Beauty, part Cinderella, with some Jack and the Bean Stalk thrown in for fun. I liked the old fashioned verbage and was glad I was reading on my Kindle which made looking up words a breeze (there were quite a few).
Princess Ben starts out a bit spoiled, but I like how her character develops through the story, and I think the author does a good job fleshing out most of the other characters. Although, I wish she would have spent more time developing Prince Florian and hence the budding relationship with Princess Ben.
My biggest gripe is that we are rushed through the end. The author does a great job setting everything up in the beginning, and then when it comes to the best parts, where I finally get and like Ben, she’s gone and finished before I know it.
Because of the extensive vocabulary and some mature elements, I won’t be adding this book to our library, but will recommend it to older readers.

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