Iron Hearted Violet

by Kelly Barnhill
ages: 10+
First sentence: “The end of my world began with a story.”
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Princess Violet is not beautiful. In fact, she is the furthest thing from it. But, she is gregarious, intelligent, and well-loved by all. She isn’t entirely satisfied by this arrangement: she thinks she’d much rather be beautiful than anything else. So, when the 13th God, the Nybbas, starts whispering in her ear, making promises to Violet, she’s willing to risk the entire mirrored world for beauty.

Or, so she thinks.

That’s about as far as I got. It’s not a bad premise, though the illustrations don’t do Violet’s deformities justice, but the execution drove me batty. Generally, I have no problems with intrusive narrators (I liked A Tale Dark and Grimm and the Incorrigibles of Ashton Place books, after all), but this one drove me batty. First of all, the narrator is an actual character in the story, and an adult one at that. And the story is written in first person. All of which doesn’t add up to me. Who is the main character? Violet. Then why is this storyteller guy (who calls me “my dear” all the time, too!) telling the story?

Sad to say, even though I think that this book has a good moral (be accepting of yourself, and you may change the world), I never got past the annoying narrator to get to that point.

(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.) 


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