I received an ARC of this work
4 out of 5 stars.
This is a bit younger than this blog normally covers, but I was given this ARC by a librarian friend and I think some of my grade 6 students might go for it.
Darling is a lowly pot scrubber in the magical palace that is also home to the lovely Princess Mariposa. The whole kingdom is anxiously awaiting the day when a suitable husband will be found for their darling princess. Several suitors have already been found and rejected when one arrives who seems to share Mariposa’s love of butterflies and may be able to win her heart. Such excitement! A royal wedding may be on the horizon!
None of this would normally impact Darling in her day-to-day pot scrubbing duties, but a crisis in the castle prompts her immediate promotion into Mariposa’s retinue as a wielder of one of the royal irons (not for anything as precious as the princess’ clothes, but she does get to handle the bedsheets and handkerchiefs). Her new role leads her to discover an entire closet full of dresses worn by the kingdom’s past queens, all of which are curiously partially sapient. Darling eventually discovers that wearing the dresses allows her to magically disguise herself as some of the castle’s inhabitants. This will certainly come in handy as the beloved suitor might not be everything he seems, and there are rumours that some of the stone dragons on the castle’s rooftops are getting restless…
This books is adorable and joyful. Each chapter starts with a little doodle of a dress (one of the best parts of this book) and the general atmosphere of the book is unique and happy. There is no romance but definitely a strong message of friendship.
The interior organization of the castle was what first caught me off guard. Every job function has a rigid hierarchy, so that there are many dishwashers in the castle, but the more important you are, the more important things you get to wash. Darling starts off as a pot-scrubber, one of the lowest positions. I guess the mental image of some dishwashers lording it over other dishwashers really caught my imagination.
I work in a junior high, so I think this book reads a bit too young for most of my kids, but would be perfect for grades 3-4, especially fans of Jessica Day George. An fun, innocent read.