Book Review: A Posse of Princesses

21 Feb

Cinderella went to the ball, we all know that, but what happened at the ball? What were the other guests like? What did people talk about when they weren’t dancing, and who became friends with whom? What was going on behind the scenes?

A Posse of Princesses answers those questions. Princess Rhis doesn’t think she’s necessarily going to snag the prince (though she can’t help hoping), but she’s determined to have a good time at the ball, and she does. But there’s more going on than meets the eye, and the adventure she and her new friends find themselves in when the most obnoxious ball guest is kidnapped snaps with excitement and surprise.
from an review by Far-Ranging Reader

Sherwood Smith’s A Posse of Princesses does something that few female focused YA fantasies seem to do these days. She gives us a smart heroine who isn’t a passive cypher waiting for others to use her and act through her. Nor is the character operating in a depressing, dystopian world against unsurmountable odds. In fact although Rhis thinks she’s a rebellious princess, she’s actually well behaved and rather conserative.

However, despite all that, she’s probably one of the stronger feminist characters I’ve read in a long time. Yes, she thinks of boys a lot (what sixteen-year-old doesn’t?) but she isn’t defined by them. She doesn’t accept people’s opinions as fact and seeks to discover the truth on her own. She also refuses to be a part of any one group, thus making herself a leader to others who also don’t fit into the popular crowd.

A Posse of Princesses could very well have been set in a modern high school as much as as fantasy realm with magic and fancy dress. This is a story about finding one’s place in the world while everyone else tries to do the same.

However this book will ever reach the bestseller level that books like Meyer’s Twilight and Hocking’s Switched have, which to me is a real shame. The protagonists of the latter two books are held up as examples of modern teenage girls and worshipped for their passiveness. The Twilight and Switched characters are too caught up in their own woe-is-me attitude to grow as people until they are forced to (kicking and screaming) while Rhis, when presented with unpleasant aspects of herself and her actions, first rejects the critiques as most people do, but then considers them and decides for herself what is true and what isn’t.

She’s consciencious and conscious – that is she cares about other people and she moves through life awake, aware and always open to learning. Unfortunately in our apathy-adoring culture, she’s too nice, too active and has too many social skills. You only need to turn on any reality-TV program to see how little appreciated these traits are. We prefer our role models to be disconnected, lazy near-sociopaths who can’t think beyond “what’s in it for me?”.

As a teacher I see far too many Bellas and Wendys (both male and female), but it’s the Rhis-like girls and boys that I put my faith in for the future. It’s just too bad that the rest of the world doesn’t see how important a role model like Rhis really is.

If you want to read a good solid story that’s entertaining as well and hope-for-the-future giving then go buy Sherwood Smith’s A Posse for Princesses now.

You can download yourself a copy (for Kindle) from my Amazon store, or link through to a print version if you prefer.

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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Book Reviews


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