Iron Hearted Violet
Under a mirrored sky with two suns, a young princess longs to be beautiful. Though she is brave, loyal and clever, Violet knows that the princesses in stories are always lovely and fair. But she has a lopsided face and mismatched eyes. The desire to be beautiful, as she believes a real princess should be, draws Violet into a dangerous battle for the future of her world.
"IRON HEARTED VIOLET is a fantastic story...Barnhill’s story is fun, smart and interesting and is sure to thrill all kinds of young readers."
IRON HEARTED VIOLET is the latest by Kelly Barnhill and it is a fast-paced and thoughtful fantasy adventure. In it, readers meet not only Violet, a most unusual princess, but her best friend Demetrius, the son of the castle’s stable master. While growing up, the two spend their time exploring the secret places of the castle and listening to stories about dragons. When they discover a hidden room full of books written in a mysterious language and a frightening painting, which illustrates the ancient enslavement and torture of dragons, they both begin to understand that the world they live in is not quite what it seems.
Soon, Demetrius is called to accompany the King of the Andulan Realm, Violet’s father, on a royal dragon hunt. The king hopes to find the last dragon in the world in order to study it. The search party finds the dragon, and Demetrius makes a connection with the tired, old beast. Despite the success of finding the dragon, the King brings the party too close to the lands of the Mountain King, who takes their presence as an act of aggression. Before the Andulans know what has happened, they are at war with the Mountain King’s forces.
The cause of war is not really about this border skirmish. While Demetrius and the king have been away, Violet has continued to try to unlock the secret of the strange painting and the history of dragons. Her inquiries begin to unleash a terrible force into the world. When her mother dies, Violet is thrown into despair, and she is soon under the power of the Thirteenth God, the one everyone has tried to forget: the Nybbas. The Nybbas gives Violet the beautiful face she wished for in exchange for her help in securing its freedom. Trapped for generations in the castle, the Nybbas begins to convince Violet to assist in its destructive plans.
Can Demetrius and Violet save their civilization from evil? And, what if the only way to save the world is to destroy it? The two heroes get help from a few unlikely sources and each must face difficult physical, emotional and ethical decisions to ensure that good prevails. IRON HEARTED VIOLET is a fantastic story. It combines traditional fantasy elements with some unexpected plot twists, unique characters and provocative themes. The narrator is Cassian, the beloved royal storyteller, who, like Violet, makes bad decisions in the course of the novel but brings an honesty and perspective that readers of all ages will appreciate. Barnhill’s story is fun, smart and interesting and is sure to thrill all kinds of young readers.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on November 6, 2012