Sweet Trouble

Rants, raves, book reviews and one girl's thoughts on life, the universe and everything.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook

The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook came to me highly recommended. The book kept popping up on my recommendations from Amazon, and has been on the reading lists of Sherwood Smith and Charlaine Harris. For all of this online visibility I had a difficult time finding the book at first. For some reason I assumed this was a young adult novel and was surprised to find it in the regular Science Fiction and Fantasy section of my book store. Silly me.

The big revelation is in the title: Princess Contessa isn't. Tess is, in fact, an adopted street urchin raised by the royal couple to protect their daughter by birth from assassins. Even with such a big "twist" occurring in the first couple of chapters Cook manages to keep up the pace she has set, delivering her readers with a rollicking good adventure.

This was the first of Ms. Cook's novels that I have had the pleasure of reading, and I would guess that it is the first of a quartet. The book just has that sort of feel about it. The Decoy Princess has overtones of Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy in that the heroine is not quite royalty and is mentored by a shadowy figure in arts more assassin-like than lady-like. Cook's writing style is mostly enjoyable and gives her readers glimpses of castle/medieval life without it seeming ponderous. The cast scrounge baths, search for food and bicker with each other in a very realistic and engrossing manner. My only complaint is the over-usage of the made up curse word "Chu." The author is so heavy handed in bandying about her linguistic novelty that it has the opposite effect of what she intends and jars the reader out of the delightful world she has created.

Dawn Cook's website has her complete bibliography, and news of upcoming releases including Princess at Sea a sequel to The Decoy Princess with a tentative release date for this summer.


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