The author of Ella Enchanted creates another plucky heroine, whose destiny is to lead her people to freedom (and get the guy).
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine. Harper, 2017, 385 pages
Reading Level: Middle Grades, 10-12
Recommended for: ages 10-16
Peregrine (Perry) was stolen as an infant—actually commandeered by Lady Klausine, a childless noblewoman. It’s unfortunate that the Lady was so charmed with this particular baby, because Perry is Bamarrean by birth, a despised class ever since the warlike Lakti fled a monster invasion in their own lands and took over the kingdom of Bamarre. The girl grows up spirited, smart, and clever—everything a Lakti princess should be, except Lakti. Her love of poetry might have provided a hint of her origins, since the ruling class has no use for the arts, but it’s a shock when a fairy named Nadira reveals Perry’s origins to the girl when she turns sixteen. It’s an even greater shock to her loving father, Lord Tove, who finds he can no longer love his daughter. In fact, as presumptive heir to the throne he must kill her, lest the kingdom eventually fall to an inferior being. Perry’s only recourse is to flee to her own people and live in disguise, with the aid of Nadira and some magical implements picked up here and there.
Perry’s story shares interesting elements with that of Moses: raised in luxury and privilege, falling from favor and forced to flee, taking refuge in the wilderness and emerging to lead her people back to a promised land. I don’t know if the parallels were intentional, but it makes good solid story-bones, and Perry is a likeable narrator. In places, though, the magical devices (a tablecloth that sets itself, seven-league boots, and a shell that allows the user to hear distant conversations) seem a little too convenient, and the plot a little too crowded. Also, after some draggy middle chapters it wraps up too quickly. The theme of bigotry and pride (and the fall that follows) come through clearly without belaboring, and some of the quoted poetry is beautiful in its simplicity. Also, older (girl) readers will swoon over the noble young man who wins Perry’s heart.
Cautions: Sensuality (some kissing)
Overall rating: 3.75 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 3.5
- Artistic value: 4