Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George is not the Disney Cinderella you know, and, having read a lot of Cinderella retellings, I'm pleased to say it still brings something new to the table. Poppy is part of a royal study abroad--minus the studying--to make nice with countries whose princes died after failing to break her family's curse. (I spent a semester abroad in Spain and sympathized with the culture shock element.) Poppy quickly finds dark magic at work in the form of a mysterious woman mesmerizing all the men at the balls, and it's decided: Cinderella must die. (Not so much on the dying, but it sounded more dramatic.)
What I liked:
- The protagonist, Poppy. While Rose (in Princess of the Midnight Ball) was a fine protagonist and strong in her own way, she spent much of her story either sick or as a damsel in distress, doing little to try to fix the situation. Poppy, even in danger, is rarely a damsel in distress. She fires a pistol, she is a pistol, and her louder personality and lesser conformity to societal norms resonated more with me. She's also a card shark. ;)
This book is more of a retelling than the last one, which I felt stuck closely to the original tale. Princess of Glass took more liberties with the plot and characters, and it felt more original.
What I didn't like:
- The romance is a little rushed. Poppy never melts into a puddle of goo, but...it feels a little fast. Still, not horrible compared to many fairy tale retellings, and I liked the pairing well enough.
- I am a firm believer in approaching magic spells and curses gone wrong with humor, not angst. The author gives us a little of that, but in general, everyone was worried. When your friends and family are magicked into acting like fools, have some fun with it (and take pictures for future blackmail) while you search for a cure. :D
- The ending is too rushed and too vague for me. I was unclear on exactly what beat the villain or how it happened. I must have missed something important because it looked like poof! Instant victory!
- Roger. I don't mind him as a character and he never steals the spotlight, but his being there and his peculiar skill set is a little too convenient. I like it more if Poppy has to solve the whole curse problem alone.
I enjoyed this book, more so than the first I think. It has a spunky heroine, a prince who needs rescuing and a good dose of magic. Definitely worth a read if you like fairy tale retellings and don't mind another twist on Cinderella.