by Betsy Schow
I received a free ARC copy of this book via NetGalley.com in return for an honest review.
Princess Dorthea of Emerald is a shallow, self-obsessed fashionista. I can't tell you how refreshing that was. I didn't exactly root for her at the get-go, but she's entertaining as opposed to annoying. She narrates the story with plenty of snark, and despite her haughty and spoiled nature, I sympathized with her longing to escape her gilded cage. She, just like every Princess of Emerald before her, is a prisoner in her own palace. There's this prophecy that says one day, a Princesses of Emerald is going to set the world on fire. Which would be bad, of course. But maybe not as bad as a forced marriage with the rude and ice-cold Prince Kato. To escape such a horrid arrangement, Dorthea wishes upon a star that turns out to be cursed. The rules of magic fall apart and the world she knows careens out of whack. With only the help of a kleptomaniac servant girl and her intended, Dorthea has to find a way to put everything back together. Hopefully without breaking a heel.
This book was hilarious. Schow plays with all kinds of fairy tales, stories, and legends, and there are so many wonderful fairy tale puns and parodies. So many! It's a hotspot of corny jokes and I had a field day with it. Glenda Original ball gowns. Hans Christian Louboutin heels. Good Grimm, even the swear words are derived from pixing fairy tales. And the chapter titles. I laughed so much with this, guys.
The primary inspiration for this book is the Wizard of Oz, but certainly not the story you're used to. At all. Instead of just trying to re-imagine a classic or tell it from a new perspective, Schow pulled a few elements from here and there and then made her own entire reality out of it. There are shadows of and allusions to Oz, but this is a whole different fairy tale.
I loved watching Dorthea's development from shallow and selfish to savior. It's not a severe change, which is what makes it interesting. The events of the book chip away at her bad habits and uncover her good ones. Instead of intense character development, Schow uses the drastic events of the novel to ever so slowly and subtly shift Dorthea's perspective.
The writing is decent, but the clever story is really what makes this stand out. Touted as “a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige's 'Dorothy Must Die'”, it's great fun, it's on the fluffy side, and would be a good, quick beach read.