About the Book
Book #1 in the Kingdoms of Sand and Sky duology
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Perspective: 3rd person limited, multi-POV
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Format: Kindle Edition – Public Library rental
TW/CW: parental death, death of a loved one, torture, imprisonment, forced marriage, kidnapping, violence/gore, trafficking, sexual harassment
Length: 368 pages
The Princess Will Save You is a YA fantasy adventure inspired by The Princess Bride, in which a princess must rescue her stable boy true love, from the acclaimed author of Sea Witch, Sarah Henning.
When a princess’s commoner true love is kidnapped to coerce her into a political marriage, she doesn’t give in—she goes to rescue him.
When her warrior father, King Sendoa, mysteriously dies, Princess Amarande of Ardenia is given what would hardly be considered a choice: Marry a stranger at sixteen or lose control of her family’s crown.
But Amarande was raised to be a warrior—not a sacrifice.
In an attempt to force her choice, a neighboring kingdom kidnaps her true love, stable boy Luca. With her kingdom on the brink of civil war and no one to trust, she’ll need all her skill to save him, her future, and her kingdom.
Rating: 3/5 stars
This book has been on my TBR for awhile, so when I was approved for an eARC of book #2 I figured it was the perfect time to pick up The Princess Will Save You. I have loved The Princess Bride film since I was young, so I was obviously very excited to see a YA feminist twist on the tale.
The retelling aspect started out strongly with Princess Amarande and her stable boy Luca in love, the prospect of arranged marriage for Ama, and most importantly Luca’s kidnapping, which I was actually SO excited about. Who doesn’t love the idea of Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo reimagined as a band of teenage outlaws? And to make the twist even cooler, Inigo’s character was a sword-wielding young woman, which I loved. While the personalities of these young pirates were not nearly as memorable as the characters in the film, the introduction of this cast of characters combined with the political intrigue and the promise of adventure made for a compelling start.
Unfortunately the middle portion of the book did not captivate me quite as much as the beginning. The plot meandered on its way to reunite Amarande and Luca, adding a clump of subplots and scenes that introduced side characters and worldbuilding elements that barely affected the overall plot, if at all. For all its desolation, the Torrent was not nearly as impressive of a setting as the Fire Swamp, and The Princess Bride references became scarcer and harder to detect. Prince Renard was not as detestable a villain as the film’s infamous Prince Humperdinck, though the unpredictable behavior of his cruel brother Prince Taillefer (who was a standin for the Six-Fingered Man) definitely heightened the stakes. (Although, and this is me being extremely nitpicky, Ama and Luca constantly remarked that Taillefer had a fox-like appearance, but the author chose to name his brother Renard, which literally means “fox” in French…it made no sense to me. If someone out there understands please tell me!)
To my relief, the story found its mark again in the third act and turned back into the retelling I was hoping for. The action and tension were both nonstop, and I couldn’t wait to see how it all ended. Without getting into spoilers, there were moments where my heart broke and my mouth dropped open in shock from the twists and turns. Ultimately, it provided a great set up for book #2 and made me excited to dive into it within the next few months.
While the romance in this book was sweet, I would have liked to see it developed further in both the beginning pre-kidnapping as well as after Ama and Luca’s reunion. As someone who reads a fair amount of romance, I did not find myself swooning or smiling over Ama and Luca’s relationship, as much as I wanted them to end up safe and happy. Hopefully this will be developed further in the second book as they continue to use their love to overcome every challenge thrown their way.
My last critique is around the POV switches in this book. The chapters are not labeled as they often are in multi-POV books, so it often took me a paragraph or two to comprehend whose head I was in. While most of the story is told from Ama’s POV, we also get Luca’s POV as well as the POV of various side characters. Some of these side POVs were well-placed, but others seemed thrown in for the sake of the plot but did not really seem necessary. Personally I would have liked a bit more consistency and intentionality, but neither did this ruin the book for me. This element just wasn’t to my taste.
Overall, I would recommend this book for younger fans of YA Fantasy and retellings. I think it would have done well as a standalone, but as someone who loved the ending of this book I am definitely looking forward to The Queen Will Betray You.
About the Author
Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. While in South Florida, Sarah lived and worked through five hurricanes, which gave her an extreme respect for the ocean. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, which, despite being extremely far from the beach, happens to be pretty cool.
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➜ Book #2 The Queen Will Betray You will be published on July 6, 2021