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Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup
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Garden Princess (edition 2013)

by Kristin Kladstrup

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Title:Garden Princess
Authors:Kristin Kladstrup
Info:Candlewick (2013), Hardcover, 272 pages
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Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup

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Princess Adela would much rather pull weeds than pour tea. Unfortunately, her opportunities to garden are shrinking rapidly, as her father turns over her education to her kind but conventional stepmother. So Adela jumps at the chance to visit the famous gardens of Lady Hortensia, even if there are rumors that she might be a witch and even if it means dressed up and being, sigh, sociable. Once there however, Adela finds out that magic isn't a fairy tale after all, especially that whole "being transformed" bit. She'll need the help of a group of unusual allies to defeat the wicked witch and change the course of her whole life.

This is a serviceable, if not especially inspired, fairy tale-ish fantasy. Adela is a briskly commonsense heroine and her friends, especially the jackdaw who is enchanted...but definitely not an enchanted prince! are nice touches. It just didn't grab me for some reason. I've read and enjoyed a lot of period fairy tale and fantasy retellings where the characters aren't historically accurate - E. D. Baker spring to mind - but somehow this just plodded for me. The ending felt a little overly messagey and didactic as well.

Verdict: If you have fans of E. D. Baker, Jessica Day George, Kate Coombs, Patricia Wrede, and M. M. Kaye's Ordinary Princess who just can't get enough of the "not your typical princess" trope, this is a light and fun read that they'll enjoy. I don't think we really need any more of this genre though, and the cover is a real deal-breaker for me. The giant black bird blotting out the garden, the fuzzy photographed princess, it just looks wrong.

ISBN: 9780763656850; Published 2013 by Candlewick; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013
  JeanLittleLibrary | Mar 9, 2014 |
It was okay. If you have a younger student hoping for a romantic story in which nothing physical happens more than a hug or some handholding, then it's the story for you! ( )
  scote23 | Dec 26, 2013 |
Princess Adela would rather be in the garden than anywhere else, and when one of the gardeners -- a handsome young man named Garth who has been Adela's friend since childhood -- receives an invitation to the mysterious Lady Hortensia's garden party, Adela decides to go along. Lady Hortensia's garden is truly marvelous: all kinds of flowers blooming out of season. However, Adela accidentally discovers the secret behind Lady Hortensia's garden: Hortensia is actually a witch, and she turns the young ladies she invites to her garden parties into flowers. As for the young men, she bewitches them and they become willing, lovestruck servants. Adela must find a way to escape and bring an end to Hortensia's evil deeds, and with the help of a talking magpie, she searches for a way to escape.

Sadly, this story fell flat for me. I never got a good sense of the characters as distinct, developing individuals. The climax of the plot came too early in the book, leaving a lot of winding down afterwards, including the wrapping up of a couple of romantic subplots that I just never bought into. And on top of it all was a fairly heavy-handed message about internal vs. external beauty. So, though I love fantasy stories and stories about gardens, this one just didn't do the trick for me. ( )
  foggidawn | Jun 7, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763656852, Hardcover)

Dig in to this middle-grade fantasy featuring a horticulturally minded princess, a beautiful butevil witch, and a magpie with a shameful secret.

Princess Adela is not a typical princess. She’s neither particularly beautiful nor particularly graceful, and she’d rather spend her days digging new plots for her garden than listening to teatime gossip. But when her friend Garth is invited to a garden party hosted by Lady Hortensia — whose beauty is said to be rivaled only by the loveliness of her gardens — Adela can’t resist coming along, even if it means stuffing herself into a too-tight dress and donning impractical shoes. But the moment Adela sets eyes on Hortensia’s garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom — in the middle of October! Not only that, there is a talking magpie flitting about the garden and stealing the guests’ jewels. Is it possible that Hortensia is a witch and the magpie an enchanted prince? And what of the flowers themselves? Will Adela get to the root of the mystery and nip trouble in the bud before it’s too late?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:31:27 -0400)

When Princess Adela sets eyes on Lady Hortensia's garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom, and in the middle of October! Not only that, there is a talking magpie flitting about the garden and stealing the guests' jewels. Is it possible that Hortensia is a witch and the magpie an enchanted prince? And what of the flowers themselves? Will Adela get to the root of the mystery and nip trouble in the bud before it's too late?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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