The Princess Thieves (New Century) By Alexander Shaw
So after my mammoth effort of a few weeks ago I needed a break before I read anything else! (And after reading at least one book a day for nearly two weeks I needed to do things like housework!)
So work finally quietened down and I found myself a new novel. Or rather my husband found me a new novel. (Disclaimer: although both my husband and I are both avid readers, and even tend to read from the same genre we are often at different ends of the genre and rarely read the same books – so if we insist that the other reads something – then it has to be something good.)
The Princess Thieves was originally in audio book format – and that was how my husband ‘read’ the book. I am very pleased though to have read the novel adaption. It has been a long time since I have laughed out loud with a book! (Yeah I was THAT crazy lady!) and was screen-shoting and sending snaps to my friends as fast as I could.
This book has EVERYTHING! As I said it is absolutely laugh out loud funny, but it also offers everything else you could want from a fantasy adventure book. There is a princess, and a bodyguard, they visit Camelot, Robin Hood is there, and while you are busy enjoying all the zany fun along the way suddenly you find yourself at an ending that really leaves you an emotional wreck and questioning everything you know.
I struggled a little bit at the beginning, as we were introduced to each group of people, each group felt a little disconnected and I was left a little confused. However I instantly liked the characters, especially the Princess, Viola, Oberon and Robin.
The fourth wall breaking was an interesting feature, and one that I definitely feel was probably more effective in the audio version. My favorite character over all was actually Viola. I liked that she really seemed to know the balance of looking after the princess but also allowing her to live life and do things that she wanted.
The world that the book takes place in was very well described, some of my favorite moments were the tunnels inside the castle, and the description around there.
I feel like I need to share some of my favorite lines as I really did love them so much!
I felt that there was a really balanced approach to gender in this novel. Something that I really appreciated, this moment below literally had me laughing out loud, it felt so real, yet also real within the world of the book.
“Watch your tone, woman.”
“You just wasted four seconds gawping at my rear” she called back without turning “Toodle-pip”
From the same tone I found this quote below immensely thought provoking.
“I merely decided to harness female energy this time around. It felt like the appropriate course of action in this proud, masculine society. Being a woman felt… right.”
To me it has aspects of being able to go against the norm, and perhaps stand out a little bit. But it also told a story to me about power. As the female characters in the book have so much power, within their masculine world, it shows that you can indeed stand up and be who you want, the world does not have to hold you back.
The quote below really tickled my fancy as an English teacher, so often we get those over written stories about things that happen in a breath-taking flash… I also love though that it felt like Shaw was able to laugh at himself a little bit with lines like this.
In a breath-taking flash…
Absolutely bugger-all happened.
Absolutely nothing profound to this quote – other than this is perhaps the best (and most accurate!) description of beer that I have ever heard in my life!
“A pint of your least uriney beer please, good sir.”
Overall, the ending of the book was the most powerful, it was a nice reminder that change, real genuine change can happen with the smallest little spark. It also showed that a real happily ever after tale, comes about only when you take action and make it happen.
The afterward by the author also nicely linked these ideas to the sometimes scary world that we are currently living in.
In terms of teaching – I love the idea of doing a connections report around fairy tales. There could be some amazing conversation about if the messages are still relevant to children/teenagers today, and how perhaps we could adapt them. A book like this would also go amazingly alongside poetry such as “Leaving Prince Charming Behind”, and looking at other re-tellings of classic fairy tales. I think they still have such a powerful message, and could be so interesting to study as a class.
Overall – you should definitely read this book. Highly recommended!
Genre: Speculative fiction, fairy tales, fiction, adolescent fiction,