Frogkisser! (Garth Nix, A&U)
Princess Anya, second in line to the throne, lives with her childish, spoilt older sister Princess Morven, her stepmother and her step-stepfather, Evil Socrerer Duke Rikard (it’s far less complicated than it seems). When Duke Rikard turns Morven’s latest True Love, Prince Denholm, into a frog, the only way Anya can calm her down is to make a Sister Promise to return the Prince to his human state. This promise coincides with the Duke’s powers and ambition to be ruler of Trallonia reaching a dangerous peak. Anya has no choice but to accept the challenge set by the royal dog matriarch Tanitha to go on a Quest with a capital Q to undo the evil Duke Rikard has wrought and to bring peace to the lands. As a big reader of all fantasy, I absolutely adored this book. It lovingly pokes fun at every fantasy trope imaginable and flips ancient standards on their head. And not just in a ‘the princess recuses the prince’ kind of way. The Good Wizard, for example, is a kind young lady who, with a twinkle in her eye, can summon a big white beard, deep booming voice and pointy hat to ‘look the part’. This book is perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett, or anyone 12 and up who has ever enjoyed a fantasy novel and likes a clever joke or two.
Dani Solomon is a bookseller at Readings Carlton