Synopsis: “My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man–no man I would ever want to meet, surely–could fit his hands around my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm…”
Benevolence is not your typical princess–and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale.
With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. 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 arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?
The method of her parents and uncle’s death are explained, and the reasoning behind the murders contemplated. (Stabbed/slashed, and encased in ice.) A battle occurs, but not very descriptive. Ben’s hands are lashed, and there is plenty talk of war, wounds and, mentioned but not explained, torture. Florian receives an injury; head wounds as well as poison. Talk of a dragon devouring people.
Ben dreams of Florian kissing her, several times. They kiss at the end. Florian and his captain talk of a woman, and ‘frolicking’. (Ben is bathed by a maid, and several women come to gawk at her because of weight loss. Nothing sensual.)
Wine is drunk throughout the book; the Queen drinks enough to add colour to her cheeks, but not to be drunk.
Queen Sofia is hard on Ben, and Ben rebels at first. However, as the story progresses, Ben realises that Sofia is wanting her to improve, and cares for her, even if it’s not directly expressed. She learns the value of treating others well, and in turn, most will extend the same courtesy.
Princess Ben, in an attempt to lessen her figure, is almost starved and kept to a room equivalent to a cell. Confined to such a room, she discovers the witch’s room and learns magic.
Overall feel: This book has many twists and turns, and being quite clean, is a very interesting read. The writing style is more proper than most, but not hard by any means. More suitable for older teens, not content wise, but interest-wise, and readers who don’t look for the romance to be first and foremost.