Ninja Books

a new home for readers on the web

            Once Upon a Marigold
            Jean Ferris
            Reviewed by: Carrie Byrd
            Review posted: 02/20/05

            Take everything you know about fairy tales and mix it together thoroughly. Every prince, every princess, every dragon and frog and troll. Now, dump it out, because you wonít need it for this book. Once Upon a Marigold provides proof positive that the Bros. Grimm had it in for fairy tale monsters. Jean Ferris gives you the real scoop, and turns convention on its head.

            And I mean that in a good way. Or at least, as good as it can be when youíre laughing so hard that the people sitting next to you on the plane are kind of edging away. Those of you who know me know that I support wackiness in pretty much every form and author Jean Ferris doesnít shy away from throwing in a heaping helping on a regular basis.

            But the wackiness is the icing on the cake. Ferris also provides us with fun, engaging characters, a fast moving plot, and a very subtle moral. Of course the moral may be that living in a cave is pretty awesome, but itís still a moral. Right?

            Christian is our protagonist. Heís full of ambition and inventions, if only he could figure out how to put them all to use. Princess Marigold is the heroine of the hour. Not quite sure where she fits in, Marigold struggles along as best she can, trying to be a princess and herself at the same time. I think everyone knows how hard it is to be a princess and be yourself simultaneously. Those pointy hats are hard to manage, after all.

            Despite the introduction of several predictable elements Ė the evil queen! the arranged marriage! the unexpected twist that you totally expect! the forbidden love! Ė Ferris still manages to keep the plot interesting and fresh, which, in a genre that is pushing the limits of how many spunky princesses it can handle, is quite an accomplishment. The fact that she manages to actually work in some genuine surprises is an unexpected bonus.

            This isnít a particularly challenging read, but it is fun and worthwhile. Ferris is a gifted storyteller, and even the expected elements are entertaining enough to overlook the slight predictability. Her sense of humor is definitely worth investigating. I laughed hard enough reading it on the plane that I made the guy in the next seat nervous. If that isnít a good indicator, I donít know what is!