Author: J Kirsch
Title: A Princess Who Defied Kings
‘Betrayed by justice, what would you do? Princess Najika of the White Kingdom is no pampered princess, but when her wedding night with the Red Knight leads to a terrible crime, it shatters her world, banishing her to a place ruled by a man known to be mad and cruel. With pluck and courage Naji is determined to survive, but with a queen wanting her dead, she’ll need all the friends she can get.’
I suuuuuuuuck! So sorry. Apparently wandering off to visit my mother for the weekend means I can’t get blog posts out on time. Ho hum, hasn’t happened for a while, I’ll try to keep it that way.
For September’s review I return to fantasy, my first and dearest love. This novella is an example of what I call High Fantasy and for that reason alone I was thrilled to get stuck in. Here goes.
For me,t his cover tried to be too many things at once. It needed to be either the scaled background with text OR the cool chick with the blade with the text. Both somewhat detracts from the effect of both and makes them less than they are. And, on an original Kindle, it looks like three images just lined up one on top of the other because it’s in black and white. I had to return to Smashwords just to remind myself that there are elements to this cover I like. The colour choices are especially good. Unfortunately, there’s otherwise too much going on to make this cover as good as it should be.
Princess Najika is a no-nonsense, sassy little madam wrongly accused of murdering her recent husband in cold blood. Rather than killing her, the leaders of the trial (including her father) decide to ship her off to a neighbouring Kingdom to marry the lord (Black Knight) there. A sort of punishment for her and appeasement for him.
En route she escapes and madness ensues until the Black Knight saves her arse from a near-miss with some of the guard sent out to retrieve her.
Actually, I like this. A good, solid base for a story including a good starting point. Did she really kill this guy? Why? Are they just trying to stitch her up? What’s the deal with this Black Knight? And so on. Lots of questions, the answers for which are drip fed as the story progresses.
I guess my only problem with the story is that after the middle it got somewhat formulaic. Now the story, but the structure of it:
Najika has an issue/gets into trouble. She deals with the trouble or gets help dealing with the trouble. She moves on, foreshadowing the next mayhap which takes place in the very next chapter.
I started to feel as though I was reading a bundle of short stories tacked together because they had a common thread. Obviously there is an element of this in every story (because that’s almost the case) but I personally would have liked a bit more variation in how major plot events dipped and peaked. As they are, they’re quite easy to spot from a mile off and some of the magic is gone when you get there.
Despite that, there were a few nice surprises that I wasn’t expecting and the story completes itself very nicely while laying the groundwork for those that follow.
Najika. The Mouth With Boobs. Heh and I don’t mean that in a cruel way, no, no. It was nice to see another female character able to hold her own (most of the time) without having to resort to using her body to get out of trouble (most of the time). Her voice was strong and clear throughout but at times I still felt as though I was only skimming the surface of what she was about. Strong females characters don’t have to be without vulnerable moments and just to be whole, Najika could have done with a bit more of that.
Bronwyn. The Sidekick. The relationship between this woman and Najika was necessary to stop Najika coming off as annoying, but I don’t know enough about Bronwyn. The friendship blossomed quickly but without the depth I needed to see if I really liked her or not. So moments where she should have shone bright and dazzling, I had to work harder than I might have liked to feel it.
The Black Knight. The Bad Boy. Actually almost my favourite character. I’m not sure if that’s a reflection on me or the character, but this chap was a whole lot more fun that Najika. He seemed to have more at stake than she ever did and that made me warm to him all the more (an issue somewhat intensified by the fact that I see Johnny Depp when I imagine him).
A pleasant little read. A good length, I feel, for the story to be told. At times a little slow, at others, chapters would have suffered no ill effects from being stretched to delve deeper into what characters were feeling and to highlight the stakes (and avoid the formulaic issue I described above).
I don’t remember any typos or formatting issues (which is good) but I do remember a giggling out loud at a bunch of very fresh and imaginative similes and metaphors (which is even better). Good on you J Kirsch. 😉
Average across all scores is a good, clean 3 stars.
I like high fantasy with female leads. There’s more of them now than there used to be and that pleases me. If characterisation and plotting continues in this sort of vein I will be checking out the rest of the series when I have time.