Where Honesty Never Ends.
Welcome once again to The Review Board. This look at The Escape of Princess Madeline is going to have a book club type feel to it. Ms. Ova Veugh is running a tad bit late, but I’m sure she will be here in the nick of time to have the reviewers discuss any drawbacks, opportunities they may have seen in the works as well as get each reviewers’ verdicts.
In the meantime, let’s get started with Wordsmith Andi, who will provide the synopsis via Amazon on this work:
Synopsis via Amazon:
The Kingdom of Soron is known for many things, its rolling landscape, haunting history, fiery sunsets, and its beautiful princess. Princess Madeline woke on her sixteenth birthday to realize that her future had been planned out, a life full of privilege, royalty, and boredom… a life with a husband and knight champion that she did not choose. Using her charm, strength and stubbornness, she defies the King at every turn, determined to keep her freedom on her terms.
Freedom quickly turns to disaster as she finds herself seized by a group of wandering bandits. With the kingdom in turmoil over her capture; her Knight Champion eager to prove himself, a group of dedicated suitors determined to win her hand, and a group of exiled wizards join forces in the hunt to rescue her. Follow Princess Madeline in this adventure full of twists and turns as she tries to find her freedom and answers to her questions about life and love.
The Wordsmith Weighs In:
The Escape of Princess Madeline was a charming and pleasing read, not just for middle schoolers but for adults as well. A coming-of-age story set in a fairytale land of Soron complete with a king, kingdom and knights, The Escape of Princess Madeline takes us on an unexpected series of events as Princess Madeline, a young girl who dreams of adventure while being constrained by her gender and role in her father’s kingdom, balks at an arranged future and takes her freedom into her own hands.
Ms. Pulioff weaves an enchanting tale with engaging characters that interact in entirely believable ways. Her visual imagery is vivid yet leaves enough to the imagination so as to maintain an integral mystique, a technique she also applies with adept skill to the descriptions of the wizards and magic. She creates enough intrigue in the mystery of the wizards and their exile to support an entire series based solely on these people yet this intrigue only adds a delicious element to the main story.
Madeline is precocious and stubborn, every bit a sixteen year old girl. Her journey is one of profound realizations expertly crafted through a fairytale motif, the message easily discernable to the specified target reader. Daniel’s journey provides a distinct counter to Madeline’s; his quiet, humble and unflagging determination to serve his king and the princess despite the odds transitions smoothly into the gentle budding of romance. These two characters are different but provide a beautiful balance in their personalities and interactions.
Now let’s send it over to Casey Prism:
Madeline’s a princess. Every girl’s dream, right? For sixteen years it was certainly Madeline’s. The only thing missing was her mother, lost when Madeline and her brother were very young. Now Madeline has blossomed into a young woman. When her father demands she finds a suitable husband for her sixteenth birthday, her title suddenly becomes more of a curse than a blessing. First defiant, then outright rebellious, Madeline flees, finding herself in one heap of trouble after another. If you like medieval knights, princesses, wizards and a hint of magic then you’ll find The Escape of Princess Madeline enjoyable.
This was an easy read…almost too easy-which threw me until I reached the end and discovered that this story is part of a series geared for middle-school aged children. Aha! Duly noted.
This Prism peek now shines on the Truth…Mini Truth, that is.
Princess Madeline from Soron has just turned 16 years old and finds herself bound by “duty” a word that she’s come to despise and cringe at. Her father King Theodor is adamant that she is to marry and in that regard he sets off to prepare a celebration so that she can choose her future husband from a pile of slim pickings. Said celebration does not go off well and neither does the event that follows.
Madeline is misunderstood by her twin brother and his love interest, which also happens to be her best friend.
The story starts off with a bit of backstory. You find yourself submerged in a memory dream of King Theodor’s where he remembers the birth of his twin children and death of his Queen. A bitter sweet moment that causes him to make a rash decision. The decision to banish all of the wizards from his land, due to a promise that they could not keep.
Many would think Madeline is being immature and spoiled, however in all truth she is more misunderstood than anything–oh, and bull-headed, like her father. She’s been protected and locked away her entire life, and abruptly she’s got to marry without yet having seen the world. Suddenly feeling the pressure of the choice that has ultimately been already made for her, she decides that running away is her only option at freedom. But what does that lead to, but her getting kidnapped and held hostage.
Though the story is more about Princess Madeline, you will also find the characters of Braden her twin brother, Sophia her best friend, Daniel a knight, Prince Paulson, a slew of other not-so-regal princes, stewards, wizards, servants, bandits and knights.
This story is definitely something written for a younger age group that will transport them into another time and world, with it’s easy to follow narration and youth friendly atmosphere.
My favorite part was when Sir Daniel came across the wizards which lived in a cave that they’d transformed into a village. I did not really have a least favorite part, to be honest. I enjoyed the entire story.
This story though filled with adventure, it is toned down, subtle. Perfect for the age group that it is for.
Now, let’s observe what Nikki sees in the story:
Activating Nikki Vision:
This is a charming and well-written fantasy book that was an easy read. There are lots of sensory descriptions, which add to the atmosphere of the narrative and give a sense of reality to the fantastical location.
Being short I rattled through it in no time. It tells the tales of a princess who rebels against her arranged marriage. There is the usual mix of fairy tale romance in the shape of her Champion knight, Daniel and a faint element of magic and threat from the outcast wizards. There are some nice physical description that set the mood and atmosphere of the piece. I really got a sense of where we were and how beautiful the kingdom of Soron was:
“Sunsets in Soron were a sight to see. The way the colors melted together-the reds, oranges, yellows-made it look as if the sky was on fire, melting the sunlight into darkness…Decorated to match the sunset, the ballroom shimmered with beautiful red and orange banners. A soft breeze floated through the room, rustling the flags, making the colors dance.”‘ Just lovely.
I warmed to the King because of his loss and his tenderness towards his children in particular, Madeleine. He shows that he is just and kind because he does not execute the wizards he blames for his wife’s death, merely exiles them. The Prologue neatly sets the scene for future conflict with the wizards through foreshadowing with his ominous words, “Be warned, if you so much as enter the kingdom, or whisper its name, your protection will be gone and I will not stop my men from killing you.”
Madeleine comes across as feisty as well as loyal. Although she knows she must do as she is told and find a suitor at her birthday ball: “It was her duty to be at the ball tonight, but that didn’t mean she had to do everything they said.”
And indeed she does not, in that she wears a different dress to the ball from the one her father has bought her. This neatly shows us her rebellious side: ” I will not sit down and let you decide whom I marry and what I wear.”
Daniel, the knight, is also described well. We get to see his character from his thoughts about Madeleine; someone he cannot possibly hope to love because of his low status. However, there is a connection between them and I wanted them to get together. When she sees Daniel during the tournament, we know she will fall for him and spurn the other uninteresting Princes she met the night before. “But affecting her most was his simple nod in her direction after each event. She couldn’t look away.”
Unable to marry the suitor chosen for her, Madeleine flees from the castle and is lost to the king. It is up to Daniel, her champion, to find and bring her back.
In the beginning the narrative is pacey and there is a lot of action in the scenes to keep the reader engaged. The characters are believable as we are allowed inside their heads. The King is outwardly strong and gruff towards his children, but we get to see his kind nature in the way he treats his people and how emotional and upset he is when his daughter goes missing. Kirstin Pulioff handles point of view well and most of the characters are sufficiently different from one another to make them credible. Her brother Braden isn’t so well described, he hovers in the background as a sounding board for both her and his father. He came across as representing the reader and we and the other characters find out things because of his knowledge of them, or him asking questions of others.
Ova: I’m here! I’m here! So sorry I’m late. Traffic in these parts is horrendous.
Hmm…I see you have covered the strengths of the work in your own way. Easy to read, full of adventure, engaging characters seems to be a common thread with the four of you.
Question: Are there any areas for improvement/notes?
Vision: I thought some of the story was a little obvious and not too original.
Prism: My only qualm with this story (this does take into consideration the target age group) is that it was too short. I definitely felt that the story could’ve gone a little further, the characters could’ve been delved into a little deeper, and overall the plot and length of the story could’ve easily been extended to include more, more, more! I think that it should be noted that the story is enjoyable on its own, certainly a wonderful tale for a tween. I just think that it could’ve been longer.
On that note, please let me also mention again that this book is part of a series, and therefore could very possibly be continued. I’m unsure if the author continues this story or builds off of other characters, or just keeps with the theme and has completely different characters and stories altogether.
Ova: Yes, there are two other books following this one. Book Two is called The Battle for Princess Madeline and Book Three is called Princess Madeline and the Dragon. More information can be found at her website and visiting the author’s Amazon page.
Truth: There are only two things that I feel I should mention. One is more of a preferential thing, whereas the other I’m mentioning more for the sake of “picky readers”.
1) I did find some small mistakes in grammar and punctuation. Where one word was used instead of another, or a comma or period would be missing. Small, simple things like that.
For example on page 75 it reads:
“He had about giving up on his search…” when it should have been, “He had about given up…”
Little things like that. But those things were scarce.
2) Since this is a story for the younger crowd, I think it would have been a great idea to incorporate some imagery here and there. Maybe a small illustration at the beginning of each chapter or something. Something to give kids more of an initiative to keep reading all the way to the end.
Wordsmith: A few points to note (but none that truly detracted from the enjoyment of the reading):
Ova: Taken all things into account, what are the ratings from each of you?
Wordsmith: 8 out of 10 TRB Stars. On a final note, I would and will recommend this book (and series) to my son’s middle school teachers for the important messages contained in the story and for the delivery of those messages. Well done Mrs. Pulioff. Well done.
Prism: This works serves as a little something for the “happily-ever-after” in all of us. Keeping in mind the audience, I give The Escape of Princess Madeline 7.5 Stars. It’s got a lot of fine qualities and I believe that an age-appropriate reader would enjoy it.
Truth: 9 out of 10 TRB Stars. This was a very good story, and I enjoyed it.
Vision: 7 out of 10 TRB Stars. All in all, this is a very enjoyable fantasy that would engage the younger reader. It was well-written and with the green robed wizards’ appearance in the Epilogue, there is a promise of some conflict, magic and plot development in the next one. I would read book two in the series.
Ova: Adding everyone’s stars together and dividing it by the number of reviewers gives this work a 7.875, which we will round to 8 out of 10 TRB Stars.
Again, apologies for my lateness, but all the same, right on time!
On that note, we are out of time. Thanks for stopping by The Review Board. Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment. Enjoy the rest of your day!
This is Ms. Ova Veugh.
Over and out!