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Levine, Gail Carson. The two princesses of Bamarre.

HarperCollins. 291p. c2001. 006-057580-8. $6.99. J

To quote from the review of the hard-cover in KLIATT, May 2001: Levine contributes to our literature with modern fairy tales--ones that still have ogres, fairies, dragons, magical swords, boots, cloths, and so forth. Her reworking of the Cinderella story in Ella Enchanted was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book. This story is about sisters, princesses in a kingdom in which people die of a mysterious illness called the Grey Death. Their father is a weak king, completely ineffectual, an interesting variation on the character of kings in fairy tales. One sister is brave, dreaming of adventure; the other is timid, relying on her sister, afraid of spiders and many other things. Meryl, the strong sister, is struck down by the Grey Death--her death will come in a matter of days unless someone finds a cure for the illness.

The sisters have been raised on an epic story of a brave hero who fights dragons and kills gryphons, and this epic poem returns again and again to Levine's pages as the girls find solace in the saga. At the end, the sisters have inspired an epic poem about their own lives. Addle, the timid princess, loves Meryl so much she finds the courage to leave their home to go in search of the cure, Rhys, the sorcerer who loves Addie, cannot accompany her, but fie gives her objects that will keep her safe. Addie's adventures are numerous: she kills an ogre, causes the death of many gryphons and even stabs the ancient dragon who captures her and keeps her prisoner--the dragon who reveals the nature of the cure that will save Meryl.

The action is relentless, and until the last hour of Meryl's life Addle struggles to save her sister, fulfilling the prophecy that the cure will be found when the timid find courage. (So the fairy tale even has a moral attached.) This is a fanciful story that belongs solidly in children's literature more than YA literature: it lacks the bite of the latter But younger YAs who love high fantasy will certainly enjoy the adventures of these sisters. Claire Rosser, KLIATT
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:359
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