Book Review: Prince(ss) by Sara Gravatt-Wimsatt

Title: Prince(ss): A fair(l)y (odd) tale

Author: Sara Gravatt-Wimsatt

Publisher: Sara Gravatt-Wimsatt

Publication Date: July 30, 2020

Genres: Epic Fantasy

Shelves: Female-fronted, female-authored, transgender

Prince(ss): A fair(l)y (odd) tale is a book that came my way a couple of months ago, introduced to me by Sara Gravatt-Wimsatt, a queer nonbinary femme author, as a high fantasy novel with female leads and queer relationships. I was already sold on it just from chatting with Sara, but one glance at the cover blurb told me this was something I had to read. My only regret is that I didn’t read it and get the word out faster, because this was fantastic!

This is very much classic sword-and-sorcery, an episodic quest novel that reminds me fondly of my days reading Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms. Each chapter is a new adventure in the journey of Juliane and Liliana, a new challenge to be overcome in the form of haunted forests, fantasy beasts, fairy tale monsters, evil sorceresses, necromancers, and more. It seems familiar (in a good, nostalgic way), and yet it’s wholly original, with character flourishes that are a delight, and gentle subversions of fantasy tropes that transform it.

As much as it’s about Princess Juliane’s quest to be restored to Prince Julian, the story is equally Liliana’s, and that pairing is what makes this such a joy to read. It’s a slow-burn, enemies-to-companions, friends-to-lovers romance, with significant character growth for both that explores the boundaries of gender, love, passion, and purpose. I can’t say too much about that, because there are spoilers tied up in their relationship, but I was delighted by how each new revelation opened the door to potential romance, never forcing it or making it feel artificial, but allowing it to blossom naturally.

Like those old sword-and-sorcery novels, Prince(ss) is sometimes violent, but never gratuitously so, and often sensual, but never explicitly sexual. It’s easily accessible to a wider audience, but doesn’t feel restrained or watered down. I thoroughly enjoyed it, from beginning to end, with the middle section involving Tancred, the Water-horse, and Rhoswen, the fairy, a definite highlight, especially for how the implications of those events prove to have lasting significance, defining so much of the journey into the Darklands.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the author for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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