When I review Melanie Cellier’s first book, The Princess Companion, I mentioned being excited to read the next in the series because it followed the villain from the first book. The Princess Fugitive was different than other reads for that reason and many more.
This book is a re-imagining of little, red riding hood. And while I could see the inspiration, it was really a story all its own. In the beginning, Princess Ava avoids an assassination attempt and flees the castle with her guard, Hans. During this time we come to understand how her father raised her, teaching her to use her beauty and power as a weapon. Her fairy godmother refuses to help her win back her kingdom because she is undeserving, so she begins a journey to the High King to demand answers. While seeing Hans unwavering belief in her goodness and making some new friends, Ava begins to want to change herself and rule justly.
Ava is a great, complex character. Her father shaped her, so this freedom from him gives her the chance to really learn who she is and what she wants. This isn’t a story of quick changes or flashing realizations, but slow growth. I loved reading about Ava first realizing her faults, seeking forgiveness, and then trying to become better.
Hans was a great character as well, though I would have like to see more change in him too. He was awesome, protective, and fearless. Maybe I just wanted to see some vulnerability or self-doubt in him. The only thing he ever seemed unsure about was Ava. I felt like I was starting to get to know him better, but his story got overshadowed by Ava. (I mean, this was her book, so maybe this is just me).
I also loved the symbolism in this book. I don’t remember there being hardly any in the first book, but here it was really vivid. I’m excited to see the author use it more. I love stories that have the symbolism so well drawn you hardly even pick up on the fact that it is symbolic, you only feel the impact of it. I think Cellier is on her way to being able to do that, which is amazing.
There were lots of other great aspects of this story. The pacing was great. The editing was well done. The minor characters were excellent. If your are a fan of kingdoms and fairytales with a little more depth, this is a great read. Happy reading, my friends!