Book Reviews

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted was Gail Carson Levine’s first book and for it, she won a Newbery Honor. I read this book for the first time when I was in 8th grade and fell completely in love with it. I’ve re-read it several times since and Bart read (and loved) it shortly after we got married. It really is a fantastic book.

Perhaps the fabulousness of Ella Enchanted is what made me so disappointed in the last two books of hers that I’ve read. I read The Wish in one evening early this summer and was so unimpressed that I didn’t even write a review of it. My friend Ralphie lent me “The Two Princesses of Bamarre” a few weeks ago and I read it on the plane on Sunday. It was a lot better than The Wish but it was not even close to being on par with Ella Enchanted. Alas.

It has many of the same elements of Ella Enchanted (it almost made me wonder if she was trying to recreate the massive success of that book), with fairies, magic objects, a little romance, etc, but it just didn’t have the same magic that Ella did. It felt a little rushed in some places and very slow in others. It simply didn’t work together as well as Ella had.

Anyway, the two princesses are polar opposites: Meryl seeks adventure and wants to leave the palace and go find a cure for the Gray Death and find the fairies. Addie is scared of practically everything, especially Meryl leaving and makes her swear to not leave until Addie has married (she promises herself she will never marry because then Meryl will never be able to leave).

Then, Meryl comes down with the Gray Death and Addie forces herself to leave to find the cur before Meryl dies. She’s given some pretty excellent gifts to help her – seven-league boots, letting her get anywhere she needs within a few steps, a table cloth that sets itself with a feast anytime you say the magic words, a cloak that makes you less noticeable (not quite invisible, though), and a spyglass that can look through walls/stone/brick/wood, etc.

I didn’t hate the book; it did have some great parts. I loved the dragon scenes, and I liked how the plot was resolved. It really was a fine book, made worse by the unavoidable comparisons with Ella Enchanted.

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  • Reply RA September 27, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Yeah, sometimes the anticipation brought on by past books makes the disappointment that much greater. I can see why that whole sophomore slump happens, you know? There must be a lot of pressure.

  • Reply Kristi September 27, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Hey, not that this has much to do with the post, but I love the new picture of you– beautiful as always!

  • Reply LeAnne September 27, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Ella Enchanted is my favorite book! I gave the Two Princess of Bamarre to my niece for Christmas and she couldn’t stop comparing it to Ella Enchanted and therefore did not enjoy it.

    Great blog…and great pictures of DC!

  • Reply Merrick September 28, 2007 at 3:03 am

    I agree with Kristi…i really love your new profile picture. You look great!

  • Reply Megs September 28, 2007 at 7:21 am

    I just got this book from a book order with Ella Enchanted, so I’ll have to remember not to compare. :S

  • Reply Heather September 28, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Loved Ella Enchanted, not so much enchanted by her commissioned work for Disney, “Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg.” Haven’t read Bamarre yet. Try Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.

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