The Mystery Princess by Melanie Cellier

Book Blurb:

Daria has spent her whole life caring for others. So when she’s rescued by traveling merchants while fleeing for her life, she’s more than happy to work for them in return for her safety.

But danger follows her, as does Prince Percy. Daria thought she’d left the complications of balls and royalty behind her, but she can’t hide as a servant forever–not when whole kingdoms are in peril. As the threat grows, so do the risks Daria is willing to take. But even as she puts herself in danger, Daria doubts she could ever be enough–for the people who need saving or the prince himself.

In this reimagining of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, the overworked orphan must face dangers, doubts, and traitors before she can hope to triumph in a ballroom.

If you enjoy clean romance, adventure, and intrigue, then try the books in the Return to the Four Kingdoms series now! These interconnected fairy tale retellings each feature a different heroine who finds herself friendless in a strange land and who must fight to save her new home and win her happily ever after.

Mary’s Review:

The Mystery Princess by Melanie Cellier diverges from the path taken by many stories of its kind by shifting focus to platonic, familial relationships over romantic ones. Some retellings I’ve found are all about romantic relationships to the point where the story lacks substance, but this reimagining of a classic fairytale instead looks at questions about the nuances of the impact of fear on relationships, starting within the family and then traveling outside it. Between the protagonist and each of the characters stand different barriers shaped and moulded by fear, and it is through recognition of these and through replacing the fear with truth and courage that they find freedom. 

“How ironic that she had placed me in desperate danger by her efforts to keep me safe.”

Cellier has a gift for writing hard-hitting character arcs that show the reader both the problem and the difficulties of reaching the solution, as well as the way it reaches beyond the characters to our own lives. And she shows the power of selflessness, inward beauty, and valuing others through the courageous and selfless motivations and actions of the cast of characters. The later installments in these series especially excel in focusing on adventure and growth instead of romantic feelings, and I think her Aladdin reimagining is the one I’m perhaps most excited about reading next. A girl as Aladdin? In an exotic foreign land? With a spy master involved? Say no more!

Recommended for those who love Cinderella reimagined, caravan stories set in fantasy lands, and a prince who washes dishes with best of them (with a grouchy/uppity talking horse for a companion).


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