Hello Humans! There are a number of people who, I would guess, have dreamed about being a princess at some point in their life. Unless that princess had a dog I wasn’t particularly enamoured but who am I to judge others? Connie Glynn’s Undercover Princess was a book published a couple of years ago that fulfilled that fantasy. I read a copy from my local library and was reminded a little of the sense of ‘believable fantasy’ that I got when reading The Princess Diaries as a teenager. That being said, there were a few things about the book that I didn’t enjoy (cough, queerbaiting, cough) and it’s become something of a running joke amongst some friends. I’m a huge believer in the potential of sequels, however, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to review the next book in the series Princess in Practice.
As they return to Rosewood after the dramatic events of their first year, Lottie and Ellie are hoping for a peaceful term.
But strange things are happening at Rosewood. Pupils are being poisoned.
Is the threat of secret organisation Leviathan growing closer?
Lottie and Ellie are determined to find the culprit; but danger could be closer than they think…
I think that this book, overall, was pretty good. It manages to capture that feeling of a fantastical narrative that still somehow feels like you, the reader, could slot into the story. It’s that ‘ordinary girl becomes a princess for a day’ narrative that is so familiar and so fun to read. On top of that, you have the fun of ‘gloriously old private school filled with secrets to uncover’. This book ticks a lot of boxes. I’d categorise it at the younger end of YA, which is an area of publishing which I’ve seen people talk about being neglected of late. I would have loved to read this book, this series, when I was in the early stages of secondary school, transitioning from middle-grade books to YA. Knowing that is the intended readership is part of why I wouldn’t be as harsh about some of the ‘ooh a plot device’ things that happen in this story – as it’s part of setting that kind of tone.
This book was…less queer-baity than the first book. I don’t know. On the one hand, I’m pleased that romance and crushes and such don’t take over the whole book, and it’s nice to have these things introduced in a gentle way. On the other hand, I feel like this story could be gloriously queer and it feels a little…restrained in a way? I’m not expecting passionate kisses in the corridors (I mean…I am but I can deal with them not being there) I just want the conversations about these things within the book to be a fraction more explicit? Especially since, for some readers of the intended age range, this might be an early exploration of those ideas, a conversation starter or more. That will, of course, be a matter of personal preference but I was still left feeling a little flat where I wanted to feel triumphant. I’m going to keep reading this series because I feel like it’s building into something but I still want more.
The plot is…silly but fun? It feels odd to call it silly because it’s obviously quite high stakes and there is some genuine danger for the characters. It really felt, to me, like the plot of a Hallmark Christmas movie (but not at Christmas). It has that cosy ‘none of this is real and everyone will be ok’ feeling that just makes you feel as though Santa might turn up and wink at the camera any minute. Again, that will either be your cup of tea (cocoa?) or it might not be what you’re looking for. I kind of think that softness is so core to the identity of these books that to bring in a bit more bite would feel just as false?
If you like a cosy comfort read I think this book and the previous one are both great examples. Glynn manages to create and sustain particular tone with this book that keeps you interested and also gently prods some themes that perhaps aren’t being addressed in other traditionally published books aimed at this age range.
My rating: A solid 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Princess in Practice is out in paperback on June 13th!
What say you? What are your thoughts on this series? Let me know in the comments below!