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Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Frogkisser! (2017)

by Garth Nix

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Princess Anya really just wants to spend all her time in her castle's library studying how to be a sorcerer and avoiding her evil stepfather, Duke Rikard, and the dramatics of her twin sister, Morven. But when Duke Rikard decides to move up his evil plans to steal the crown from Morven and exile Anya, Anya is forced to go on a Quest to recruit aid to help defeat her stepfather. At the same time, she must also collect ingredients for a lip balm that will allow her to transform one of Morven's former suitors back into a human after Duke Rikard turns him into a frog. As Anya's Quest goes on, it also grows and Anya must decide just what kind of princess she wants to be.

Decidedly cute, this was a charming take on several different fairy tales and the fantasy genre in general. I solidly enjoyed it but didn't quite love it, although I think that's largely a symptom of not being the target market for the book. If you enjoy humourous takes on fantasy and enjoy older middle-grade/ young YA, this one is definitely worth picking up. Also, if you like truly adorable talking dogs. Or just dogs. ( )
  MickyFine | Aug 18, 2017 |
Princess Anya wants only to read and learn sorcery. She is the second sister after all, not the heir to the crown. Unfortunately, her older sister, Morven, is a twit who cares only for herself, and her stepstepfather is an evil wizard. When the Royal Dogs challenge Anya to restore the old laws that protect the people, Anya sets forth on a quest to right wrongs. Her companions are a young Royal Dog, a good thief transformed into a newt and an otter transformed into a half-girl. Along the way they meet a Good Wizard, the seven dwarves and a most unusual Snow White and Robin Hood. Reluctant quester Anya perseveres despite volumes of mud, stinky sewers, and an army of transformed weasels. A light-hearted romp that twists some fairy tale characters and introduces others in a new light. The occasional overly-detailed descriptions slow the predictable plot. Still, the diverse cast of characters including female knights and good robbers, heroic otters, and flying carpets that wrap up riders and shoot them skyward like rockets will entertain the intended audience and keep them cheering for the Frogkisser. ( )
  bookwren | May 28, 2017 |
Frogkisser! is a delightful fantasy quest story about a princess who must save her kingdom from an evil sorcerer (also her step-step-father), but first needs to kiss a frog to turn him back into a prince for her perpetually love-stricken older sister.

It is a decidedly middle grade book, and I would have loved to read it aloud with my niblings if any of them were old enough to sit still long enough to listen. There's danger and excitement, but nothing too scary, and the only romance is silly Morven's constantly rotating suitors in the background. It's also got talking animals, including the Royal Dogs, ravens, a boy transformed into a newt, and an otter half-transformed into a girl.

My experience with Garth Nix's work (especially some of his short stories) is that he likes to deconstruct common fairy tales or fantasy elements and say "what if this were so? what would be the knock-on effects?" or then take those elements and make them more sensible. With Frogkisser!, he lovingly and lightheartedly plonks a lampshade on any number of common fantasy quest tropes, then says "yes, okay, that's good". These include comments about sorcery and transmogrification, the way servants can be treated in a royal household, the preparations needed for a proper Quest, the usefulness of flying carpets, even the standard wizard garb (our Good Wizard happens to be a beautiful young woman - who wears a false but very fluffy and white beard). It helps that Princess Anya has taught herself about the outside world through reading books and listening to stories from the matriarch of the Royal Dogs, so she is familiar with what traditionally go into Quests and such.

In the course of the search for ingredients to make a mango-flavored magic lipbalm that will allow Princess Anya to kiss transformed creatures and turn them back to their true selves, she learns about being a good ruler. Her kingdom is one of many after an ancient and large one was broken up a very long time ago by floods and a powerful sorcerer, and important things like The All-Encompassing Bill of Rights and Wrongs was forgotten. She learns about the Bill of Rights and Wrongs which means also learning about her naive selfishness in the castle, about how having unlimited power isn't exactly a good thing, and that sometimes you have to do a job you don't feel perfectly suited to, and so you must adapt.

This is the kind of book I adore: indulging in all the fantasy story tropes and cliches, but acknowledging that it's an indulgence with good humor and maybe turning the cliches upside down a bit. I don't know which part I liked best. I love the various characters who are stuck into prescribed roles, but don't quite fit - the Royal Dogs who are wise guardians but can't help being doggies; the Gerald the Heralds, a band of people whose job is solely to proclaim the news and must wear false noses and wigs to look the part, or the beautiful young Good Wizard who herself has a luxuriously long white beard and voice-changing lolly for when she needs to do the formal regalia. I also loved the different ways of doing magic, which have rules and consequences - the mercantile witches, remote and rule-bound wizards, and purely power and thus mostly evil sorcerers.

There are a lot of little things that delighted me, actually, and I will resist listing them all. Let it suffice to say that it was a very fun book, and I highly recommend it for young people who love fantasy. Maybe even not-so-young people, too, who enjoy reconstructions of standard fare. ( )
  keristars | May 28, 2017 |
A fantasy novel, Frogkisser is a take on the tale about the princess kissing the frog and turning him into a prince.

Princess Anaya desires to learn about sorcery. Perhaps one day she can be a sorcerer, but NOT like her step-step-father. With power, people can become dead and not know it; their evil encompasses everything. This transformation has happened to her stepstepfather, so Anaya hopes her sister will be a better queen. Anaya protects her sister who doesn’t seem very smart. Morven, Anaya’s sister, is supposed to marry but is fickle, falling for a different prince one after the other. Finally, Duke Rikard, their stepstepfather, selects a man, but Anaya knows this is a transformed magpie. Yes, the Duke loves to transform people. Morven asks Anaya to find the man she loves who was transformed into a frog. Morven has been confined to her chambers, so Anaya must find the frog and transform him back. This event starts everything.

The country has many kingdoms because it broke apart many years ago. Therefore, there is little consistency and there is a lot of fighting between people. This particular kingdom has dogs that protect and pass along the history of the land and people. They find Anaya as she is seeking the frog and tell her to leave immediately because the Duke is planning on her not surviving much longer. He has transformed anyone who gets in her way, so Anaya must begin a quest to gather an “army” to oust the Duke and save everyone from his evil. One dog is sent with her. As she travels about, she’ll gather others who need to be transformed back. She must find all the ingredients needed to create a balm for her lips which will enable her to kiss all transformed beings in order to return them to their original states. Hopefully, they will then fight with her.

This novel has received a lot of buzz in the book world, and many people talk about how cute it is. I think many of you will enjoy it, but I couldn’t get into it. I did a lot of skimming. I actually did want to see what happened in the end, but I didn’t find it hard to put down. I’d love to hear other opinions. ( )
  acargile | May 10, 2017 |
Was doubtful I would enjoy this book as it is basically a fairytale but boy was I wrong! An hilarious take on the princess on a quest with awesome characters and settings. Princess Anya is the second oldest princess and her older sister Morven is basically a selfish air head. When Morven's latest beau Denholm is turned into a frog by their evil stepfather sorceror, Anja sets off to find the ingredients for a lip balm that will turn him back into a human when kissed. She is accompanyed by a royal dog who talks called Ardent and on the way gathers an assortment of other characters who need to be turned into something else by her lip balm. There is the huge orange newt called Shrub who is a 10 year old boy thief and the half Otter/half human Smooth who wants to be an otter again.
Throw in a giant, Bert ( a female Robin Hood), a good wizard ( who can't interfere but does) snow white ( a male wizard) and the seven dwarves ( who are warriors) and a coven of arguing witches and you have an hilarious spoof on every fairytale you have ever read.
Loved some of the wisdom in it too. When overwhelmed by how much to do in her quest, Anya is told by the royal dog to "eat what is on your plate in front of you first" in other words one thing at a time.
I also believe that Nix will write a sequel because Anya promises the captured cockatrice dragon that she will kiss it with her lip balm and make it a person again and that doesn't happen.
One for fans of Harry Potter too. ( )
  nicsreads | Mar 21, 2017 |
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To Anna, Thomas, Edward, and all my family and friends. And particularly to Samwise Gamgee Nix, the Labrador who unexpectedly joined our family some three months after I started writing about Addent the Royal Dog, and to Yumdi and Bytenix, the dogs who have gone ahead on the longest of all walks.
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It was the middle of an ice storm, the wind howling across the frozen moat to hurl hailstones against the walls of the castle and it tightly shuttered windows.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 133805208X, Hardcover)

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother's new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land-and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

With Frogkisser!, acclaimed bestselling author Garth Nix has conjured a fantastical tale for all ages, full of laughs and danger, surprises and delights, and an immense population of frogs. It's 50% fairy tale, 50% fantasy, and 100% pure enjoyment from start to finish.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 08 Aug 2016 22:06:31 -0400)

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