Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: Iron Hearted Violet

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Iron Hearted Violet
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 432
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Source: Library
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Intended Reading Group: Middle Grade
Content Screening: Nothing of note
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HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Lovers of MG who enjoy a vivid fairy tale story.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N

The end of their world begins with a story. This one.

In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn't most fairy tales.

Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being -- called the Nybbas -- imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true -- not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas's triumph . . . or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.

Iron Hearted Violet is a story of a princess unlike any other. It is a story of the last dragon in existence, deathly afraid of its own reflection. Above all, it is a story about the power of stories, our belief in them, and how one enchanted tale changed the course of an entire kingdom.

Here is a story that held such promise for me, and didn't live up to what I was hoping for. Still, Iron Hearted Violet did have a lot that made me smile. Princess Violet is a different than your normal fairy tale princess. With mismatched eyes, unruly hair, and a sharp wit, she's the girl you wish all other princesses were! I loved how Kelly Barnhill put emphasis on the fact that beauty isn't only outward, but more on that later.

The world that is built here is also interesting in its own right. Violet comes from a place created by multiple gods, both good and evil. The "mirrored sky" looms over head, and stories are the main source of entertainment. As the synopsis says: "After all, stories make their own rules." I liked that stories played such a big part in Violet's life, and that she was so good at telling them. It really brought it all to life.

What pushed me away was the way that the story was told and illustrated. Our narrator is rather unreliable, and slightly wimpy if I'm being honest. Then there were the illustrations. I don't think the illustrator got the message that Violet wasn't supposed to be  a perfectly drawn princess. It drove me crazy each time I saw her image and it looked like the exact opposite of what she was being described as. New illustrations please!

As I said, I was on the line when it came to this story. I was looking for a fairy tale and I got it. It just wasn't quite what I was hoping for. Still, I see a lot to love here, especially for younger readers! This would be a great book for a bed time story over a few weeks. All I know is that I would love to see more characters like young Violet. Bring them on.


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