Review: Frogkisser! by Garth Nix


Goodreads summary:

The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

Review:

Frogkisser! is nothing less than great fun. It’s a joyful mash-up of fairy tale characters and tropes, clever and funny, with a strong and serious princess at its heart. When Princess Anya’s older sister refuses to kiss her admirer to turn him back into a frog, Anya finds herself with a Quest. She must gather the ingredients for a magic lip-balm, with which she will be able to break the curse herself. But along the way, she discovers that the world is in much more trouble than she realised. And she’ll have to step up to all the responsibility she never wanted in order to stop her evil stepstepfather from claiming the kingdom for his own.

I’m not going to pretend there’s anything particularly revolutionary here. Maybe ten years ago, genderbending some of the characters so as to have more women would be worthy of celebration, but I like to think we’ve got further than that by now. I know we have. What Frogkisser! has going for it is its sheer irreverence in playing with the traditional stories. Robin Hood and Snow White walk side by side, and neither is what you’d expect. In the end, Anya saves her kingdom not with true love, or princessly grace. She saves her people with strength of will, loyalty, and cleverness. This may not be a story that will let us all see ourselves within it, but it is a story that encourages young girls into bravery.

Representation:

As I’ve said, it’s at a pretty basic level, to be honest. Some genderbending – a wizard, some knights, and Robin Hood are women – but other than that there’s nothing remarkable. As far as I can tell, everyone’s allocishet and white.

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