Goodreads: The Princess and the Page
Published: March 28, 2017
Keira has no idea that her family are Word Weavers, who can make stories real by using a magical pen. All she knows is that her mom hates stories; only lists, facts, and the “the truth” are allowed in their home. So when Keira stumbles across a beautiful pen hidden in her parents’ bedroom, she takes it and begins to write a fairy tale, But she has no idea what her words will unleash or the danger she will find herself in.
Magical pens and stories springing to life sound like the perfect middle grade fantasy, so I was excited to read this one. Who wouldn’t want the stories they put on the page to take on a life of their own? Unfortunately, The Princess and the Page did not capture my attention the way I thought it would, and I closed the covers with some disappointment.
I thought the prose jarringly clunky and unsophisticated in general, and I considered DNFing because of it. I’ve talked about before how I think that many modern authors simply do not have great prose (Sorry!), but there’s neutral prose and prose that’s grating; Farley’s leans toward being the latter, and this is one thing I really cannot stand in books. It’s also one thing that an editor cannot really fix for you, short of hiring a ghostwriter to redo all your sentences.
However, I continued powering through, only to discover that the book also contains one of my other least favorite things: ridiculous sounding pseudo Middle English. Farley lays it on thick, and the result is cringe-worthy. The medieval character (technically French, but the book is in English so….) runs about spouting gems like this: “Thou art most certainly not what I was expecting, but that is nary a worry…Come hither!” Worse, Farley is not consistent with the grammar. (Seriously, Middle English has actual grammar rules you should look into if you want to emulate it.) So the character says “Dost thou” but “thou can” instead of “thou canst.” I simply couldn’t take a character who speaks like this seriously. Think of writing medieval dialogue like writing accents in fiction; you want to give readers a taste of it, not write a character who sounds like a hilarious stereotype.
Beyond these issues, I was not a huge fan of the plot. There are aspects of it that are interesting, since Keira has to deal with a story she wrote coming to life. It also has a great setting, a mysterious castle in France, and the glamorous set-up that Keira has won an all expenses paid dream vacation there. However, the novel is meant to be part mystery, as it takes Keira and her friends a while to figure out what’s happening in the castle, how the actions are related to the story she wrote, who is responsible for certain actions, etc. The issue is that Farley relies on the trick of artificially withholding information in order to create suspense. For instance, readers are never told how Keira’s fairy tale actually goes, so they have to wait for actions to happen in the text and Keira to reveal pages later that real life is mirroring her tale. This also means the story is sometimes choppy because it’s not always clear what is going on.
There are things that I like about The Princess and the Page, but since I considered DNFing a couple times due to the prose and the jumpy plotting, I decided to give it two stars. It has a pretty high overall rating on Goodreads, however (books about stories always seem to be a hit), so others might enjoy it even though I did not.