Frogkisser, Garth Nix – Book Review

Hello humans! I’ve said it before and I will continue to proclaim it from the rooftops until someone calls the authorities and demands I get down. 2018 is the year of ALL THE RETELLINGS. I know that, in part, that’s just my reading taste showing it’s true colours as I continue to buy retellings but still. Garth Nix’s Frogkisser! is the second Princess and the Frog retelling I have read this year, the first being an exceptional short story in Tangleweed and Brine. I was recommended this book by the lovely Asha at A Cat, A Book, and A Cup of Tea but I’d been eyeing it for a while before then. Having loved Sabriel I was excited to see what Nix would do with this story.

Frogkisser Garth Nix

Goodreads Summary:

The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

Find Frogkisser! on Goodreads

This is an incredibly sweet fairy-tale retelling that is not only a great read for YA readers but would also suit many a middle-grade reader as well. What stood out most to me was the nostalgia I had reading this book. It has the structure of all the great fairy tales and fables I would read when I was younger. The idea of going on a quest to find magical items/ingredients, meeting and collecting friends (and enemies) along the way is so powerfully ingrained in my head that I couldn’t help but fall in love with this charming tale. This is the kind of book that great World Book Day costumes are born from, and I can’t sing much higher praise than that.

Those that know me outside of the internet will know that I have two loves, books and dogs (ok three loves I guess my husband is ok too). This book has some of the best talking dogs I have ever read in a fantasy novel. The entire book could have just been lengthy descriptions of the royal dog society Nix created and I would have lapped the entire thing up.

Ok, I may have lied in the beginning, this isn’t a straight retelling of the popular fairy-tale, though the inspiration is there. However, thinking back to how dull the original story is (girl drops the golden ball, kisses, marries – yawn) I think this is far superior.

Despite being pitched slightly younger than a lot of the retellings I typically read (there are hardly any murders at all in this book?) it still tackles some tricky issues. I thought that the idea of what makes a good ruler and what it means to rule a kingdom well was an interesting approach, particularly since this book deals with a princess who is not the direct heir to the throne. It isn’t as simple as there being one evil to defeat and then all shall be well once more, Nix recognises the complexity of that, without letting the story get bogged down in politics. It’s a book that entertains, more than anything else, but it is also a book that makes you think.

I thought this book was, in a word, magical. I couldn’t find a better one to describe it if I tried. It transports you easily into the world, enchants you with its characters (both animal and human) and to top it off takes you on a thoroughly wonderful adventure. It made me laugh, it made me think and it made me so happy to read something so reminiscent of books I have loved in the past.

My rating: 5/5 stars

All opinions are my own.

What say you? Have you read Frogkisser? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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