The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Rating: 3.5/5 stars The Princess and the Fangirl

Length: 320 pages

Series: Once Upon a Con, Book 2

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT, Retelling

Publication date: April 2, 2019

 

Minerva cracks open an eye when she hears us approach. “Ah, so my prodigious progeny returns,” she purrs, although there’s only one prodigious child between us, and it’s not me. “Did you save the world or did you get lost?”

“Both?” I glance at Milo.

“Both,” he agrees.

“Both is good,” we say together.

(Ch. 4 (Imogen), p. 43)

Imogen Lovelace is your typical fangirl on a mission to save her favourite character from being killed off. The problem is the actress playing her doesn’t want to reprise her role. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, Jessica Stone will consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. Yet when the script for the Starfield sequel gets leaked, all signs point to Jess and she must turn to Imogen to find the person responsible. As these “princesses” race to find the script leaker, they need to learn how to rescue themselves from their own expectations and learn what it means to live happily ever after.

 


 

My first thought when I started reading this book was that Geekerella could have lived forever as a standalone and I would’ve been happy. I’m more than happy to say that Poston changed my mind on this and I found myself enjoying this read. Sure I didn’t love it as much as I adored Geekerella when it first came out, but I’m always happy to fangirl with others. Since Anime North – the convention in Toronto, Ontario I go to every year with my best friend – was cancelled this year due to quarantine, I gladly jumped into this fantastical convention in its place.

I knew I was going into this read with a favourite retelling of The Prince and the Pauper so I tried not to judge this read too harshly. (If you’re curious, yes Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper is still the best retelling of this story to be made.) I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t help but compare the two retellings from time to time, though I tried not to let this taint my experience in this story.

Overall I found The Princess and the Fangirl to be an enjoyable read. It’s not the most poetic or scholarly read I’ve ever read, but it doesn’t try to be. This book promises a fun read with a lot of nerdy stuff thrown into the mix and that’s exactly what it delivers. If you go into this read expecting a fun, nerdy read you won’t be disappointed.

This book covers a wide variety of fandoms and I was excited to see one of – if not my top – favourite fandoms represented throughout this story. If you’ve read the story and are wondering who that character with the umbrella is that’s mentioned, I would highly recommend you check out The Adventure Zone by the McElroy family. This is my favourite podcast of all time (but all of their podcasts are great) and so far two graphic novels have been released based on the events of this story – Here There Be Gerblins (review here) and Murder on the Rockport Limited (review here). I was absolutely thrilled to find all the hidden nods to this series thrown in.

In fact, my favourite nods to fandoms were the ones that Poston threw in subtly. While most of the fandoms were simply mentioned – Harry Potter, Yu Gi Oh!, etc – it was nice to see more subtle nods in the story. That being said, I would have loved a list of fandoms to be at the end of the book. The nerd in me would love to have seen the list and given the chance to go through the book as a sort of scavenger hunt of nerdom.

I could continue to gush forever about the fandoms mentioned in this story, but that’s not the main point of this story. If you know the story of The Prince and the Pauper then you know the bare bones of this story. The characters and the meat of the story are what make it unique.

I believe that Poston did a great job at making this story its own. It stands apart from the other retellings of this story I’ve read – not only because it’s a modern retelling or because it’s got a nerdy twist to it, either. Poston put life into this story and made it her own.

 


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Stain by A.G. Howard

Rating: 5/5 stars Stain.jpg

Pages: 516

Series: N/A

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Romance

Publication date: January 15, 2019

 

Scorch trotted up and snuffed her fuzzed head. He then sat on his hindquarters to gawk at her. “Humans are strange creatures. Moved to tears by emotions. Moved to laughter by physical exertion. And you, tiny trifling thing, are the strangest of all.”

(Ch. 17, p. 265)

Lyra, a princess incapable of speech or sound, finds herself cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt. Saved by a witch who steals her memories and raises her in an enchanted forest, Lyra is disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, the prince of thorns and night is dying. The only way for him to break the curse is to marry the princess of daylight as she is his true equal. But while Lyra is finding her way back to her identity, an impostor princess appears to steal her prince and crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice and strong enough to pass a series of tests.

I have yet to read an A.G. Howard novel that I didn’t love, and Stain is no exception. This novel brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion, yet at other times make me laugh out loud. I fell in love with the characters and felt heartbreak when they did.

While I won’t go too in depth on the subject because it would be considered a pretty big spoiler, there were two characters in this story that held my heart in their hands. I was instantly in love with them and wanted nothing but the best for each. Both of these characters sacrificed so much in order to bring the two kingdoms together and both of them managed to pull tears from me. While both challenging at times, they were two of the sweetest and most caring creatures I’ve ever had the pleasure to spend time with. I look forward to doing it all over again the next time I pick up this book.

Lyra goes through unprecedented challenges in her world, all to prove that she’s worthy – and all without knowing that she’s doing it. She must prove that she’s tough enough to sleep on a bed of nails and loud enough to be heard without a voice. Born a rose and stripped of her thorns, Lyra proves time and time again that though she might have been stripped of everything she’s ever known she’s still a strong spirit that won’t be broken.

While I found this book to be slow at times, every word is worth it. Those slow moments sometimes held the most important clues and only looking back on them did I see how truly impactful the scenes were. Howard is amazing with words and I look forward to reading anything else she writes.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in twisted retellings of fairy tales. Stain is an amazing retelling of the Princess and the Pea, all while being twisted into something almost unrecognizable. Almost, but not quite. The unique spin on this classic tale is one of the things I loved most about it. And if you love this read, I highly recommend reading Howard’s other novels as well.

One of the things I love so much about Howard’s novels is that they’re so great to jump back into time and time again. Having first been introduced to her works through Splintered in high school, I can honestly say that I adore going back and reading everything I have by Howard. I’ll be here, shielding my heart for the emotional turmoil within Stain, until I’m again able to jump into this story and feel the emotions packed into its pages.

 


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