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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.
Iron Hearted Violet - Kelly Barnhill This story is told via the device of a court storyteller (one who keeps addressing the reader as "my dears"), and has a strong fairytale air, mixed with an epic fantasy plot. It is the tale of both Violet and Demetrius, as well as the storyteller.Violet is an intelligent, lively, curious, mischievous princess, born to loving parents after many miscarriages, who happens to have very curly hair, uneven skin, an average sized body, mismatched eyes and a not precisely symmetrical face. She's not exactly ugly (certainly not in the illustrations throughout the book), but she doesn't meet the incredibly high standards of fairytale princesses, and though she's apparently loved by her family and the land's people, occasional slips of the tongue have served to make her keenly aware of failing to live up to impossible standards of beauty, and thus she feels deep-down that she's not a "real" princess. [Note: this kingdom has men and women serving in the military, and Violet is its only heir, but she's never shown learning how to run the kingdom other than when she's worried about her mother and keeping close to her, and there's no actual reason why she needs to be beautiful beyond that in stories princesses are beautiful.]Demetrius is the head groom's son, shy, assured, loving. He becomes Violet's only friend (given that the people of the kingdom theoretically adore her, I have no idea why she has no other friends). They get up to mischief until they find a hidden library and a book which allows the Nybbas - an exiled god whose history is verbotim - to worm its way into Violet's heart, play on her belief that she's not a real princess, and try to escape its prison, taking advantage of the Demetrius' absence on a dragon hunt led by a king (who has grown obsessed with that dying race).The Nybbas is evil because it's evil. Demetrius is impossibly good. The Queen is fridged. Violet gets to be taught a lesson that beauty is not what real princesses are made of.I really didn't connect to this book. The storyteller's voice definitely didn't work for me, and I didn't warm to any of the characters.