Palace of Mirrors
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Feeling, Young Adult
"Somewhere in the world I have a tiara in a little box. It is not safe for me to wear it...It is not safe for me even to tell anyone who I really am. But I know -- I have always known."
Cecilia knows that she is not just another peasant girl; she is actually the true princess, in hiding until the evil forces that killed her parents are vanquished. A commoner named Desmia is on the throne as a decoy.
As she gets older, Cecilia finds it harder to study statesmanship and palace protocol secretly at night and then pretend that she has nothing on her mind other than scrubbing the gruel stains out of her best apron by day.
Cecilia knows that it is time to take charge. Along with her best friend, Harper, she flees to the capital city, determined to reclaim her throne and face the danger head on.
When Harper and Cecilia reach the famed Palace of Mirrors, they discover complications: Princess Desmia believes an entirely different version of the story.
Acclaimed author Margaret Peterson Haddix returns to the charmed world of Just Ella, where a princess-in-hiding and a pretender to the throne discover that nothing is as it appears.
As I read through the first half of this book, I was resigned that I would not enjoy it, that the characters were flat and the plot clichéd. Cecelia struck me as particularly not so clever and Harper a moody love interest. However, as soon as Cecelia reaches the city with Harper the book takes a turn that honestly surprised me. The book went from clichéd to unique and interesting. Cecelia grew as a character, though Harper was still pretty moody.
Palace of Mirrors takes place in the same world of Haddix's Just Ella, which I have not read, though it is apparently an interpretation of Cinderella, and because of this book I plan on picking up Just Ella as soon as I can.
The book is light in its prose, unlike the more serious and more in depth fairytale like stories that I tend to read, but I enjoyed the contrast, and its freshness as soon as it hit the second half entertained me greatly.
None of them were the Princess! How awesome is that. I knew it was coming as soon as Cecelia started reading the letter, and I was hoping it would happen since Cecelia truly being the princess would just be way too cliché. The way they decided that all the Princesses would rule in the end was also fantastic. All thirteen girls were well studied in all the arts and of course some would have interests more in some subjects than others so together they make a great team.
Cecelia's growth through learning she is not the only one claiming to be a princess and her acceptance of this fact and the fact that she was never the true princess was a joy to see as well. The tidbits I learned about Ella, as she is a minor character in this book makes me think Just Ella is a very interesting take on Cinderella, so cannot wait to pick that up.
Though this is technically not a fairytale adaptation, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys them or at least the writings of Gail Carson Levine, because Haddix's book is reminiscent of Levine's style. Do keep up past the first half even if it seems droll, because the second half is totally worth it.