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Paperback Princess Ben Book

ISBN: 0547223250

ISBN13: 9780547223254

Princess Ben

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Book Overview

Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available "specimen of imbecilic manhood." Starved and miserable, locked in the castle's highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical...

Customer Reviews

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If you've enjoyed books by Gail Carson Levine (e.g. "Ella Enchanted", "Fairest"), Shannon Hale's "The Goose Girl" and its sequels, and Mercedes Lackey's 500 Kingdoms series, you'll be glad to add this to your collection. I'm looking forward to reading more from Catherine Murdock. Princess Ben is human -- meaning she makes mistakes, she isn't always very nice (though never cruel), she has vices and she isn't a perfect little adult age 15. Such a relief! I'm a "grown-up" (supposedly) graduate student, and I'm not (usually) embarrassed to admit my lesiure reading isn't exactly scholarly. Many similar stories make me sad that if I'm not already perfect, I must really be the evil step-sister instead.

Not Your Ordinary Princess Tale

On their annual visit to her grandfather's tomb, Benevolence's mother and uncle are brutally murdered and her father goes missing. Compounding her personal tragedy is the fact that Ben's uncle was the king--and his lack of children means that Ben is the sole heir to the kingdom. Still reeling from the sudden death of her beloved mother and clinging to the thin shred of hope that her father will return home, Ben is placed under the care and supervision of her aunt, Queen Sophia, now serving as the queen regent. Ben is absolutely miserable in her forced princess lessons: she hates her boring and stuffy tutor, her clammy-handed dance instructor, the pointless small talk over dinner and, most of all, the sudden reduction in her food portions. A spot of hope arrives in the form of a hidden passage that leads to a room full of magic. Suddenly, Ben has something she really wants to do and stays up late practicing magic and then sleeps her way through her daily lessons. She also finds freedom in the numerous secret passages she discovers, giving her access to the entire castle. But then a ball is held to introduce her to potential suitors and Ben decides to use her magic to flee the castle and lead a life of her own choosing. She conjures a Doppelschlaferin--a sleeping double of herself--to take her place, because her aunt doesn't seem to require a talking, thinking princess. But then Ben's plans go awry and she finds herself in the neighboring country--the same one she suspects sent the assassins which attacked her parents. When she discovers that the enemy country has found a back route for attacking her kingdom, and that that country's crown prince has been summoned to kiss the sleeping princess--really Ben's Doppelschlaferin--to wake her up and possibly win the kingdom that way--Ben has no choice but to do everything she can to get back to her castle, save her kingdom, and keep from being married to a prince she despises. PRINCESS BEN is, to put it simply, a really, really good book. It starts with the fact that Ben is such a fun narrator. She has a wry sense of humor and its fun watching her try to master magic--which she only sometimes gets right. What's also so refreshing is that while Ben is a bit of a self-centered and selfish character at the beginning--the sole heir to a kingdom running away when the country is at the brink of war isn't the best plan--she really grows and matures as the book progresses. I've just finished another YA book featuring a princess where she fails to grow up and take responsibility up to the very end and it was very frustrating. And Ben does not get boring as she matures. Far from it. She is still as spirited as ever, especially when she is trying to protect her kingdom or verbally sparring with the enemy kingdom's crown prince, Prince Florian. Another great aspect of PRINCESS BEN is the supporting characters. In the beginning, Ben sees everything in black and white: her aunt is cruel and demanding, the enemy coun

Witty and Elegant

I've read, loved, studied, and taught fairy tales all my life. Every three years I co-teach a graduate school fairy tale course and, since 1990, I've been doing a Cinderella unit with my fourth graders. So I'm always interested in new versions of these old tales as well as original ones. At the same time, because many of these come up short for me, I am a wary reader of them, especially those featuring feisty oppositional heroines who are too often pallid cousins of Gail Carson Levine's Ella and Patricia Wrede's Cimorene. So I was both curious and dubious as I started reading Catherine Murdock's Princess Ben. And here I am, after finishing it last night, having enjoyed it sufficiently to want to write about it at length. So getting to the book itself, what was it that I liked so much? First of all, I was captivated immediately by the mannered writing style and voice. Murdock has really pulled off that old-fashioned first-person epistolary style and voice; it is very nicely done indeed. At first I was very conscious of this as I read (in a good way -- I was simply enjoying her sentences and vocabulary) , but once I got into the plot I stopped paying attention; I'm guessing she sustained it all the way through. For the last few years I've been listening to a lot of Dickens, Collins, and now Eliot so I'm very conscious of this old-fashioned style and it grates on me when writers try it unsuccessfully. So bravo to Murdock for pulling it off. The characters are all very complex -- no one is totally bad or totally good; a very nice way of deepening and complicating the usual good/bad cast of characters in traditional fairy tales. I began thinking they would be stock versions or variations or opposites of the traditional types and enjoyed the way every single one of them turned out to be more nuanced than I originally thought they were. My main quibble would be with Ben's parents. They are left as single-dimensional ghosts of her memory and perhaps that is as it should be, given her circumstances, but I did feel that I wanted to know more about them, especially her mother. For a while I did wonder about Ben's gluttony, thinking Murdock was going for a large-princesses-are-lovable-too. But she went a different and original direction that I found worthwhile (and I'm not usual one for psychological meanings, but this was interesting enough for me to feel okay with it). The plot is captivating, engaging, and kept me reading and guessing. If I were on an award committee this year I would want to consider harder the climax of the story and whether it is a bit out-of-nowhere. (Won't say more for fear of spoilage.) But since I'm not, I'll just leave it as is. It worked just fine for me. So, all in all, a very elegantly written and satisfying literary fairy tale.

Twisted Fairy Tale and Morality Story in One!

Princess Benevolence is just the kind of book you and your daughters should be reading. As a 23 year old bookseller and avid lover of fantasy and young adult/ intermediate literature, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Not only is Ben not the typical willowy "naturally thin" princess encountered in most books, she unselfconciously describes herself as plump. The story delves into many aspects of a young girls psychology, from making judgements too quickly, growing up, taking responsibility, and approches with great honesty and wisdom, emotional eating. We see Ben change from a spoiled and sheltered girl to one interested not only in her country but also uncommonly kind and seeking to help others. Magic is never used to much effect other than learning life truths, like how sometimes one needs sleep before working too hard, that diligence pays off, and that sometimes one has to clean before having fun. Far from being preachy, it brings across these lessons with a deft hand while maintaining a devastating wit and fast paced plot that keeps you reading through the night. Spiced with allusions to various fairy tales, this is a masterwork of prose and imagination.

The Compulsive Reader's Reviews

Move over, Gail Carson Levine! For all of you who loved, obsessed, or even just liked Ella Enchanted, Princess Ben is for you. Ben (short for Benevolence) is in quite a predicament. Her parents and the king killed by assassins from a neighboring country, she finds herself heir apparent, and under the tutelage of her aunt, Queen Sophia, whose harsh ways quickly ensure that this princess would rather be the lowliest scullery maid than learn to be queen. But when she finds herself locked in the highest tower of the castle in true fairy tale fashion, she is amazed by the discovery a hidden magical room. There she learns spells from a mysterious spellbook while the castle sleeps. But Ben will have to learn more than magic if she's to ever escape from aunt's clutches and keep her country from being overrun by the very people that conspired in her parents' murders. This was such a fun read. Ben's dilemmas, while set in rather mystical settings, are such that you can relate to. Never dull, she is an engaging narrator who weaves a subtle enchantment on the reader. Princess Ben is adventurous, romantic, entertaining, and most of all, a humorous story about growing up that anyone of any age will not help but love. [...]
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