This book is an ARC, but fortunately for you guys, I’m behind in my ARC reading and this one only comes out in a couple of days (I think it comes out September 13th). Catherine Gilbert Murdock is known for Princess Ben and Dairy Queen, along with the rest of the books in that series. I loved Dairy Queen, and will eventually get to the rest of that series because I loved her main character. I actually never read Princess Ben, which is too bad because I realized too late that Ben (as a grandmother) plays an important role in Wisdom’s Kiss. Though, I guess I am proof that you don’t need to read Princess Ben to thoroughly enjoy this one. I am certainly adding the rest of Murdock’s books to my To-Read lists.
What Murdock got my respect for in Dairy Queen was her ability to write characters so well. And she has earned my respect again for the same thing in this one. This book is about several characters: Princess Wisdom (Aka: Dizzy), Tips, Lady Fortitude (Aka: Trudy), Nonna Ben, Wilhelmina, and Felis El Gato. Dizzy is the classic princess who would rather be anything else. Tips grew up in a small village with Trudy. And they became childhood sweet hearts until Tips was found by Felis El Gato and inducted into a royal circus. Trudy and Tips exchange letters for six years, but Tips pretends he was recruited into the army because he doesn’t want Trudy or his abusive family to learn he’s in the circus. Nonna Ben is escorting Dizzy to the land of her betrothed, who she soon realizes she’s not actually in love with. Really, she’s in love with change and adventure! Wilhelmina is the villain of the story, working hard to use her son (Dizzy’s betrothed) ito gain power. And Felis El Gato is a highly conceited, flamboyant, and loveable circus organizer who likes to tell everything as if it is an adventure story, and he the hero!
Nonna Ben, it seems, made a promise in the last book to never use magic again. Fortunately, for Dizzy (and us, the readers), she breaks that promise to save her kingdom. There’s Magic galore, here. Ben can split herself in two, allowing her to be in two places at once –in her body, and in the body of the cat, Escoffier. As the cat, she can spy on the evil Wilhelmina. Dizzy discovers the magic behind the royal circus, and is quick to reveal her magical abilities with air and fire to benefit the show. Between the cat switches, Trudy’s clairvoyance, the magical floating orbs, the magical circus performances, the splitting in two, and the crazy schemes, fans of magic will love this book!
It’s also filled with over the top, almost satirical romance. Tips (Trudy’s childhood sweetheart) falls in love with Dizzy at the circus. And Trudy finally understands why she never took a liking to Dizzy. Dizzy’s sister (the current queen) is tricked into loving someone she shouldn’t. Dizzy’s betrothed fakes a devotion to Dizzy first to please his mother and then to annoy her. And the scenes between Dizzy and Tips with all of their love at first sight drama, are magical too. And then there’s all the trouble of Dizzy being engaged to marry someone she does not love. But she can’t break an engagement sanctioned by the emperor. Or can she –with magic?
And my favorite thing about this book, besides the over the top satire, and the amazing character development, is it’s setup. The book is told in diary entries, in letters, in boasts, in encyclopedia entries, and even a play. At first, this made it a little hard for me to read because I would get hooked into a letter from Nonna Ben, and then be interrupted by a play…And each section (letter, play, boast, etc) is so good, I’d get mad at the interruption of a new format. However, as the book progressed, I would look forward to the format switches, wanting a switch from Ben’s logical thinking to Felis El Gato’s over the top explanations. And if anything, my anger at past interruptions only states how good everything is; I just wanted more of everything. My least favorite bits were the encyclopedia entries because they sometimes took me too far from the story, but I also loved them because they were an excellent way to educate me on the rules, etiquette, and histories of the world of this book. Everything just fit together so nicely!
I’d recommend this one to fans of the The Princess Bride. But really, it’s humor, it’s setup, and it’s characters could appeal to almost anyone. Also, can anyone guess what fairy tale it loosely tells? I didn’t figure it out until the end when I was told…Good surprise! I give it a 10/10 and I look forward to reading more by this author.