I "met" Jemima Pett over the A to Z blogging challenge in 2013, when we were Damyanti's minions. I picked up her books then - and sat on them, as usual - until I was looking through the books in my kindle and decided that I should make a serious attempt at reducing the backlog. So here they are - all three - which makes for a very long post! =)
The Princelings of the East by Jemima Pett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Castle Marsh, an extremely isolated guinea pig castle, is experiencing a strange energy drain. When it ruins the King's birthday feast, the Princeling twins, Fred the Philosopher and George the Engineer, decide that they must do something about it.
The mysterious tunnel that appears in response to Fred's spoken request for a secret passage is only the first surprise in their adventure. As they continue on their quest for answers, they meet the Hugo, a travelling salesman; Victor, a harried barkeeper; as well as Prince Lupin and Lady Nimrod, who provide much wisdom and help. They also discover new drinks (other than strawberry juice), find a time tunnel and visit new castles.
As stated in the blurb, The Princelings of the East is intended for children ages 8 and up, so I wasn't too sure if I would like it. I generally enjoy childrens' books, but have been finding some of them a little too bland lately. This book isn't, though. Pett has a nice blend of wit and wisdom, as well as a very engaging writing style - not overly simplified, as if talking down to children, but simple, clean and crisp, so that you're attracted to it, no matter how young or old you are.
Actually, after reading the trilogy and now flipping through this book again as I write this review, I notice there are subtle hints and clues to things that will happen in the rest of the trilogy - things that I didn't pick up until now.
The Princelings and the Pirates by Jemima Pett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Our Princeling twins, Fred & George, face unexpected swashbuckling adventures in The Princelings and the Pirates. The adventure starts off innocuously enough - the wine from Dimerie has run out and the person that Castle Buckmore originally sent to find out why hasn't returned, so Fred, George, and Victor set out for Castle Dimerie to discover what's wrong. Along the way, they get kidnapped by pirates, meet beautiful princesses, as well as dig out long hidden secrets.
I'm not entirely sure why I didn't feel as engaged with this second book of the trilogy. I love swashbuckling adventures and I did like The Princelings of the East quite a bit, so I was actually looking forward to this one a lot. Maybe it suffers from the general middle syndrome of almost all trilogies. Then again, I think that the Princeling books can be read as standalones so that shouldn't really be a factor.
It could possibly have felt a little disjointed - The Princelings of the East centres pretty much around Fred and George, and is located primarily Castle Buckmore with the occasional time travel, but The Princelings and the Pirates has a much wider scope. In this one, we jump from Castle Buckmore, to Castle Dimerie, pirate ships, Castle Marsh and the deserted Castle Fortune, with a few other castles being mentioned and thrown into the mix.
Whatever it was, Pirates was still a pretty good read.
The Princelings and the Lost City by Jemima Pett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
We pick up our story with George recovering from his injuries, Fred trying to win Kira's hand in marriage, and Prince Lupin getting married to Princess Nerys, Kira's sister. The power plant project is progressing smoothly and Fred is hard at work thinking of ways to improve Castle Marsh, ways that would make full use of the flying machine Miles and George were working on.
When Fred, George and Kira stumble upon an apparently deserted castle called Arbor on their way to Castle Marsh, they decide to explore it, resulting in Kira being kidnapped and an imposter put in her place.
I found this book more interesting than The Princelings and the Pirates, not least because it starts to explore sexism and male privilege in a very natural and practical way, which I think is excellent. Pett doesn't just look at it in a one-sided manner, but looks at the excesses of both feminism as well as male chauvinism. Granted, things in Arbor are over exaggerated - I'm not sure if this should be for kids aged 10; whilst Pett is delicate and doesn't state things very explicitly, I don't recall if these are things that a 10-year old would understand? Then again, kids mature so fast now that they might probably think Pett is being prudish. Hm.
Pett is in top form with several heart-tugging scenes scattered throughout the story and an exciting race against time.
Also, there are 3 more books in this series!
View all my reviews
Psst... you can get book 1 for free here.