Friday, August 7, 2015

The Hostage Prince by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple, 2013

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Terrifying monsters, daring escapes and a kingdom on the verge of war…
Unlikely companions Snail and Prince Aspen find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime. Due to a series of misunderstandings, they end up on the run, having adventure after mishap after scary, thrilling escape. When they reach Aspen's kingdom, they learn to their horror that their actions have divided the country and plunged it into violence. Every minute counts: it is time for Snail and Aspen to figure out a way to stop the building war—together.

(256 pages)

Honestly, just look at that cover. Does this look like a good book to you? Snail's leggings are truly hideous, and Aspen . . . well, he kind of looks like a girl. Which is kind of ironic, thinking after having read the second book.

Yeah, I've already read the second book as well. Because while The Hostage Prince looks very mediocre from the cover, it's actually really, really good. My mother, who also read it, was willing to make a special library run the day the second book (The Last Changeling) came in, even though she'd been running around all day doing errands, just because she wanted to read it so badly. She finished it that same night.

The thing about the Seelie Wars books is that they don't pull any punches - sometimes literally. As middle grade fiction goes, this series is surprisingly dark and full of violence (a lot of it implied, but some deaths actually shown). This makes the tale that much more gripping for the main characters, and makes me love them that much more for not being like the people (er, creatures) around them. Because they live in a world of ruthlessness, where any sign of mercy or sympathy is treated like a deadly crime, their own behavior becomes that much more endearing. I love the way that they begin the book behaving the way most people of their respective classes would to each other (the prince completely in charge, Snail completely submissive), but then the wall between them breaks farther and farther down as the story progresses. There just reaches a point when you're in danger and it's more important to grab someone's hand and drag them away than it is to ask their permission for touching them, you know?

Snail makes for a great main character, because she's not a huge rebel. Honestly, I'm sick of stories about girls raised in servitude who spend all of their time revolting. Snail is the low of the low, and she knows it. She understands her own position of weakness, and while she may get a little bitter from time to time (when the nobility get especially capricious), and she never loses her own self-respect, most of the time she just goes along with however things are going. She begins to gradually lose this mindset of needing to "keep her place" as the story goes on and she develops a friendship with Aspen.

Speaking of the prince, he's not always the brightest bulb. But then again, I think that goes along with his upbringing. He's basically just meant to be a placeholder to keep war from breaking out between two kingdoms; there's really nothing he can be expected to actually do with his life besides that, so he hasn't exactly gotten a lot of stimulating training or anything. I love him a lot, though, especially as the book goes on and he begins to discover things about himself and how the world works that he had never even considered before (for example: just because someone isn't born into royalty, doesn't mean he or she is good for nothing more than cleaning up after you - she might actually make a great friend, too).

So yeah, I'm a huge new fan of the Seelie Wars series (and of Jane Yolen's!), and I can't wait to read the third book. Keep an eye out for my review of book two, The Last Changeling, in the next couple of weeks!


  1. Oh my gosh, yes, this sounds AMAZING. As soon as I finish commenting I'm going to go buy it on my kindle. Can't even wait to get it in the mail. Thanks for getting this on my radar!

    1. Wow, Sam, I'm glad I could introduce you to this! I'd love to hear what you think of E Hostage Prince once you read it - I hope you enjoy it as much as you hope to! :)


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