Saturday, April 2, 2016

Book Review of The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder

The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder: a book review
Click here to purchase a copy of this book.A book review

Queen Bogdana has everything she wants. Everything, that is, except beauty. She is not just plain, she is ugly. She is actually an evil witch that has taken the kingdom by casting a spell. Now she has power, but beauty still eludes her. In order to become beautiful, she needs to perform a spell that requires the feather of a living hummingbird and a hair the color of darkness, plucked from an eleven year old girl with violet eyes. Violet was that girl, but Bogdana found her one day while she was still a baby, ten years too soon. The Queen took Violet and Violet’s mother Nuri from their band of wandering minstrels and imprisoned them. She intended to keep them there until Violet turned eleven. Bogdana entrusted two faithful servants named Maggie and George to care for Violet and Nuri.

Violet and Nuri entertained themselves by making up games and stories. Nuri taught Violet to read using smuggled books from George and Maggie. George built a secret garden for Violet to visit when it was warm. This was the only place that Violet could go outside and visit with her friends, the hummingbirds. Bogdana left Violet and Nuri alone, never telling them why they were imprisoned. One day after Violet turned eleven years old, however, the Queen came to the tower to announce her intent to make the girl her heir, whisking her away to the castle and releasing Nuri. The rest of the story is Nuri’s attempt to find her daughter and her long-lost husband, and Violet’s attempt to escape from the witch.

As in most fairy tales, this story has an evil witch, innocent girl, and a male character who helps the damsel in distress. In a departure from fairy tale formula, however, the boy Harry is merely a helper and not the hero. Violet manages to outsmart the Queen with Harry’s assistance but mostly through her own cleverness.

The addition of the hummingbirds is original and sweet. They play a large role as this story’s “magical creatures.” Another positive element is that nobody dies. No stepmothers or poison apples. No battles. No disinterested fathers. In fact, Violet’s father spends the whole story trying to find her.

At times the dialogue is a bit stiff and formal, but I’m not sure that an eight or nine year old reading it would even notice. The original details in the story make up for what the dialogue lacks.

This story is sure to be popular with students in my library, and I will be purchasing a copy in my next book order.

*I won an advanced reader copy of this book. I was not asked to write a review in exchange for the ARC, nor was I offered compensation. 
*The link above is an affiliate link.

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