Disclaimer: Reviewing pre-publication paperback ARC/proof copy.
This wasn't the right fit for me, but the quality of writing and storytelling was excellent, so I'll try to give some detail so you can figure out if it's a match for your own tastes.
This is the story of five sisters as they try to save their father (the king) from a magical curse. Only, being as how they're sisters, they mostly fall prey to rivalries and selfishness and do more harm than good. It wasn't clear from the copy I had, but this looks like the first in a series, which makes a lot more sense. I found it pretty depressing, as it seems to be an excellent argument for sticking to one child per family, and it also delves into the sex lives (and terrible choices) of each sister, and as a general rule I find a person's sexuality to be the least interesting part of them. But, y'know, tastes differ and all that. It's adult fantasy, not really romance, so the scenes don't get excessively explicit or drawn out. Somewhere from 1-3 of the sisters have some level of spiritual/magical powers that get tangled with some potential psychosis, so that part was interesting and has potential. It was a surprisingly fast read considering its size.
I'm not terribly knowledgeable when it comes to high fantasy subgenres - this might be considered grimdark? Or crossover literary-fantasy? Not really to my tastes, but the writing was very well done and the storytelling was smooth, if a little slow at the start. It switches perspectives between all five daughters, their stepmother, their stepbrother, and maybe a couple more, I don't really remember, so that does make it hard to get into the story and build attachment to the characters up front. It was a fascinating choice in terms of storytelling and suspense, though, since it really lends itself to exploring the moral ambiguity and deceitfulness of characters. They each portray themselves as sympathetic and make observations on the others, and then you switch POV and get a different look at the same people and actions. So I think this would be an excellent book for the right reader (review: 3/5 for taste, 5/5 for quality), but just not right for me.
I feel like I'm really in the minority here but overall, I didn't enjoy "Princesses of the Night." Tanya is a college student who lives with 3 other roommates and they all happen to be best friends. These four individuals own and operate a book store (I'd like to know how that came to be because yea, all college students can own their own business at such a young age). On the way back from a Halloween party, Tanya and her friends are walking home when they are beckoned into a dark alley but a mysterious stranger. For a brief second (and I mean brief), they think something is off but then they enter the alley and soon follow this stranger home. Once there, they are all bitten and turned into 4 vampires, who are destined to save the vampire world as we know it.
First of all I felt this book was super choppy. It was under 250 pages yet had something close to 50 chapters. The format just wasn't working for me. Secondly, the characters made stupid decision after stupid decision. But that's not to say there weren't a few things I enjoyed because I did. I liked how the author portrayed the whole "vampire family" thing. Tanya and her friends were able to meet up with another vampire couple sired by the same "father" and once they did, I enjoyed the book a tad bit more. Also, I liked the "bad" vampires who are trying to kill Tanya and her crew and truth be told, I'd have probably enjoyed a book from their point of view more.
Overall I'm kind of done with the romantic vampire thing which isn't really the author's fault. I like my vampires dark, gritty and vicious and not love struck and silly. I'm sure plenty of people will enjoy this book and if you love vampire romance, it might be a book for you. Me though, I won't be finishing with the series even though this one ended on a huge cliffhanger. In my head, they all die, end of series.
I received this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
I'm using this for the Vampire square of my 2017 Halloween Bingo
When Princess Amira stops to save Princess Sadie from the tall tower she’s been imprisoned in, Sadie almost turns her away. So many others have tried to save her, but all have failed. However, Amira is enthusiastic, determined, and in possession of both a grappling hook and an incredibly strong cookie-loving unicorn.
That’s just the beginning of Amira and Sadie’s adventures. Along the way, they make some new friends, Amira learns more about being a hero, and Sadie finds the courage to face her sister and rule her kingdom.
I bought this because I heard it was a sweet f/f graphic novel. It was super cute, although a bit too short for my tastes. I wanted more pages devoted to Amira and Sadie getting to know each other - Sadie’s “I trust you” happened very early on and was a bit jarring. When the villain appeared and disappeared in the space of about a page, I started worrying that the pacing of this graphic novel just wasn’t going to work for me.
Thankfully, the story smoothed out after that. I really enjoyed Amira and Sadie’s encounters with the prince and the ogre, as well as the flashbacks to Amira and Sadie’s pasts. Amira and Sadie were cute together (complete with blushing, rose petals, and background roses!).
One thing I hadn’t realized until I started working on this review was that Princess Princess Ever After was originally published as a webcomic called Princess Princess, which is still available on Katie O’Neill’s website. I’ve clicked through it and there are some artwork changes between it and Princess Princess Ever After, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t.
One thing I liked was that Sadie’s sister’s magic was changed from purple to black - it looks creepier in the print version. One thing I didn’t like was that the print version’s colors were slightly less bright than in the original web comic. Not only is this the sort of story that’s practically made for bright colors, some of the panels just weren’t as clear in the print version. Considering that this graphic novel had several black characters, a bit more attention should have been paid to whether they’d still show up okay in panels with darker backgrounds. The panels featuring Prince Taji were really dark - his skin color seemed to almost be the same shade as the wall behind him, resulting in him blending into the background too much. In the webcomic he was perfectly visible, and I could see that he actually had some shading.
The print version includes a 3-page epilogue that isn’t present in the original webcomic. I’m really glad that O’Neill added it. It doesn’t just serve as extra content for folks who’ve read the webcomic, it also makes it clear that, yes, Amira and Sadie are not only a couple, they also get a nice little happily ever after just like any other fairy tale couple.
This was a fluffy and sweet graphic novel about two different princesses becoming more capable in their own ways and falling in love in the process. I wish it were maybe twice as long and that the print version’s colors were a little brighter, but overall this was a good read.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I don't have a strong feeling on the whole Princess thing. Probably because my own daughters went through it and out so quickly: it was a preschool-only phenomenon as I recall, and Natasha's Halloween take on it was a zombie princess (one of those things she still enjoys) so, taking it Goth pretty quick. There are of course many mediocre books in every genre and niche, so that doesn't bother me. And Belle married into that library, so girl-after-my-own-heart.
Now that both are in high school they have no interest except in a few nostalgic favorites. And if I bring home a princess picture-book they can't be bothered to flip through it, unlike the ones with adorable animals. Never too old to love sloths and red pandas and extremely fluffy cats, I guess.
So they wouldn't look at it but that is okay. I like stories about girls who are told what they should like when they rebel, and I'm always happy to see books about girls doing things. I don't enjoy running, but I love to walk, so close enough. Fun art and a light tone. It's a cute book.