I was fortunate to have received a free copy of The Ugly Princess for review. Reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood fairytales, Tatterhood, the heroine is brave, intelligent, magical, and ugly. Henderson Smith has written a modern fairy tale women will love.
Not only does Princess Olive have to live with a face only a mother could love, but she has to choose whether to make it increasingly hideous by helping injured animals heal. As well, she must deal with the temptation to destroy her powers in exchange for exceptional beauty. Fortunately for the animals of her kingdom, and the people as well, Olive has her priorities straight. What’s inside the heart is more important than what’s on the face.
Olive’s father, however, completely disagrees and continually shames and berates her. Her shallow, and sometimes cruel, sister values beauty and desirability and cannot relate to Olive’s choices. Her extraordinarily beautiful mother is kind and supportive, but Olive learns mother is not the person she appears to be.
When the kingdom comes under attack from both external and internal forces, Olive must call upon powers not yet mastered. Unsure who to trust, lacking in confidence, and bewildered by her feelings for Bart, the Highwayman kidnapper, Olive calls upon her friends, the forest animals for support.
The book is full of intrigue and exploits balanced by a coming-of-age experience sure to tug at your heart. Olive is such a wonderful protagonist that you may find yourself tearing up. Her animal sidekicks will make you smile and her love interest will make you hopeful.
This book would make a wonderful gift for any teenager who was struggling with self-esteem and body image. Or, for anyone who just loves a great story.