Barnhill, Kelly. Iron Hearted Violet.
9 October 2012, Little, Brown and Company
I saw this reviewed on Barbara Watson's blog, as well as at Charlotte's Library. Because I am a frequent sufferer from Fantasy Amnesia, which seems to be triggered by maps at the beginnings of books, I was a little leery. My predecessor bought primarily medieval-type fantasies, so my library is well stocked, but I do need a few fresh things for my readers who devour Pierce's Alanna.
Oh, I even took notes. Violet is a precocious but not terribly attractive princess. She has a good friend, Demetrius, who is the son of the stable master. Things are going okay until her father heads off to face a dragon-- not to kill it, but just to sort of check it out, since there are few left. Violet's mother is expecting, but it's not going well. Demetrius and Violet find a book that summons the evil Nybbas, who stole all the dragons' hearts and is trying to take over all of the multiple worlds that were formed by the different gods. Violet's father annoys the Mountain King while on his dragon quest, and this plunges the kingdom into war as well as a conflict with Nybbas, who is busy manipulating Violet by tricking her into thinking he can make her beautiful.Will Violet be able to break free of the spell and get the help of the one remaining dragon to unseat Nybbas while also saving her kingdom from the Mountain King?
Strengths: This had a good mixture of fantasy and adventure. The world building was solid. It had all the elements of fantasy (kind advisor, loyal friend, good but imperiled parents, danger only princess can save kingdom from) without being overly trite. Nice and long, so it will take the fantasy fanatics two days to get through it!
Weaknesses: Charlotte is right-- this is pretty sad. Definitely for middle grade and up.