Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review: Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill

Iron Hearted Violet
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 9, 2012)

Description: The end of their world begins with a story. This one.

In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn't most fairy tales.

Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being--called the Nybbas--imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true--not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas's triumph...or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.

Iron Hearted Violet is a story of a princess unlike any other. It is a story of the last dragon in existence, deathly afraid of its own reflection. Above all, it is a story about the power of stories, our belief in them, and how one enchanted tale changed the course of an entire kingdom.

My Thoughts: Rich, textured language fills this tale of a girl, a boy, a dragon, and an old god imprisoned who now might have schemed his way to being free. Violet is a princess. But she is not the typical fairy tale princess with clear skin, long hair and gorgeous eyes. Violet is plain, has mis-matched eyes, unruly hair, and blotchy skin. She knows she isn't the perfect princess but she is also clever and stubborn.

He best friend is Demetrius. He is the son of the stablemaster and he becomes Violet's closest companion. Together they roam the castle and the area around the castle looking for adventure and just doing what kids do. One day they find hidden tunnels that are just large enough for them to crawl through and, while exploring, discover a hidden library, a picture of dead-eyed dragons, and a book. Demetrius just knows that the book is dangerous but Violet's curiosity compels her to take it away with her.

This story revolves around story. Everyone knows all the stories and learns from them. But one story is secret. It is so dangerous that only a few know it. It can't be told because stories become real and become life. But it is a story that has to be known. It is a story of a cruel and malicious god who was imprisoned in this mirror world by the other gods. It is the story of a god tempting and suborning and lying to gain its release from its imprisonment.

This story is told by the court storyteller Cassian who tells the story and talks to us in the audience, too. Normally, I don't care for it when the story's narrator pulls me out of the story by talking to me as a reader. This time it worked for me.

This was a wonderful story with marvelous language. I can see it being a great read-aloud.

Favorite Quote:
Now, Violet's imagination was a powerful thing. She knew that stories had their own sorts of magic—beauty can be given or taken away, as can power and love and even hope. Sometimes even the dead come back. And if the dead could be brought back within the story, what if the story's magic could be unlocked? What then?
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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