Jim C Hines

Book 3 of the Princess Novels

DAW Books (2010)

ISBN: 9780756406080

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

An assassination attempt by Red Riding Hood (Roudette, in the book) sees the princesses thrown through a fairy ring and back to Arathea, the home of Sleeping Beauty. In a land now under the control of fairies more than humans, the Wild Hunt rampages through villages and towns, fear and death dealt randomly as they search for their quarry and Talia has to confront her past in order to secure her future. With the help of Snow and Danielle, and the reluctant addition of Roudette by magical coercion, Sleeping Beauty Talia must face a battle of many fronts to save the people who abandoned her, and perhaps find some happiness of her own.

I don’t know I enjoyed this quite as much as the first two books (The Stepsister Scheme and The Mermaid’s Madness) and it took me a while to figure out why, because I adore the characters Hines has brought to life in these stories. The new addition, Roudette, was a fascinating choice, but I realized after a while that I felt like she was underused in this story. She ended up with a well developed back story and was certainly engaging in word and deed, but I really did want more! However, she was part of the problem I had with the book as a whole – the constantly switching narrative viewpoint was very confusing and left me a bit dissatisfied with the narrative as a whole.

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and the evolution of the personalities of the princesses that has continued through the three books so far. The tension between Snow and Talia now that Snow is aware of Talia’s sexual orientation and feelings for her is thoughtfully done, as is Talia’s relationship with old friend Faziya. I like that the abilities of each princess have realistic limits and even Talia’s fairy-given gifts are not all-encompassing.

The Princess Novels are not mere fairytale retellings but more a re-imagining of the concept, cleverly written and very enjoyable. I’ll look forward to The Snow Queen’s Shadow next year!