Princess of the Silver Woods--Jessica Day George
December 11, 2012 by Bloomsbury
When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse.
The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.
I am rarely disappointed with Jessica Day George's books, and Princess of the Silver Woods was no exception. It was just a good story. I read it all day on Christmas and finished it early the next day.
There is a lot of repeat from Princess of the Midnight Ball. The villain and some of the plot elements are the same, making it more of a sequel to Midnight Ball, than a stand alone in the same world, like Princess of Glass is. I loved how Glass had an extremely different take on the fairy tale than what we're used to, and I wish I could have seen more of that dynamic in Silver Woods.
Sliver Woods blends Little Red Riding Hood with Robin Hood in an interesting and fun way. Oliver (Robin Hood) is given a compelling back story that explains within the world of Westfalin of why he turned to banditry. I loved the scene when Oliver sort of accidentally kidnaps Petunia. He is endearingly awkward throughout the whole novel. Sadly, archery plays no part whatsoever in this story. How can you have a Robin Hood retelling without firing a single arrow? Along with the lack of archery is a lack of merry men. Going into more of the Robin Hood story would have given the story a different angle that would have made it feel less like a repeat of Midnight Ball. The book is supposed to focus on Petunia and her story, but I feel like the band of thieves are a vastly under-utilized resource.
The relationship between Oliver and Petunia is a bit insta-lovey, but that's how George's stories usually go, so I can accept it. In the same vein, the villains are mostly two-dimensional, evil just because they are, which is less compelling. Also, I started out already knowing who to distrust. Even in retellings, I like to be surprised by the twists and turns of the story.
I'm being nit-picky about the book's faults. That's a bit because what I like about the book is hard to quantify. It's something like reading Ella Enchanted again for the first time. It's returning to the land of fairy tales for a fun few hours of imagination. It's getting a wide mix of personalities between the princesses: some spunky, some feisty, some vulnerable. It's those face-palm, embarrassed-for-the-characters-because-I've-been-in-that-situation-before moments. It's the thrill of reading through the climax on the edge of my seat even though I already know there will be a happy ending. It's just that vibe that's so hard to articulate. Silver Woods has issues, but I still really liked it. It's a very curl-up-on-the-couch-with-Christmas-treats-for-a-few-hours kind of read. It's meant to be light and fun and quick. And it is.
Side note: Absolutely gorgeous cover! Mysterious with a splash of red.