Published by Piccadilly Press

This should, in a way have started with the phrase ‘Once upon a time…’ It is a lovely return to those wonderful stories that were read to everyone from an early age – perhaps in particular to young girls. This is the story of a princess, the younger sister of one who one day will take on the responsibilities of the throne and everything that goes with it. That sister is interested in ephemeral things, how she looks, shiny things, (particularly gifts) and which prince has come to play court to her. Our heroine, however, is much more practically minded and is thinking that perhaps she might become a wizard, though she’s not really sure. In the mean while she’s enjoying the library and books…

When one of Morven’s suitors is turned into a frog, and she doesn’t show any inclination to follow tradition and kiss him, leaving Princess Anya to find a way to solve the problem, along with that of a wicked sorcerer who is trying to take over her sister’s throne…

A newt (an enchanted boy) that regularly licks his eyes to keep them clean, an otter half turned into a human, along with a magic carpet that flies high and incredibly fast – first having rolled his passengers tightly together to prevent them from falling off, and a librarian, who when stressed changes into an owl and regurgitates castings with little or no warning, are just some of the rather eclectic and wonderful characters in this story.

The copy I read is the hardback – with a lovely black dust jacket with a very pleasing green frog resting on Garth Nix’s name, emblazoned as it is on the cover in gold. The actual boards and spine sadly don’t have a gold frog embossed on them, which I had hoped for. Though the stuck down and loose endpapers are beautiful (almost making up for this lack) – with a design of frogs leaping over lily pads. If the world was as it should be, somewhere out there should be some wallpaper made of this design – it is just right – and would make a lovely addition to a room – though perhaps four walls might be a bit much. My only serious sadness (apart form not finding a gold frog on the front board) is the lack of margin and space in the gutter of the book – which gives a feeling of frugality, not to say parsimony to the book, which is unnecessary. My colleague at work said it would add expense – I replied that I thought it would be worth it – the story certainly deserves a beautiful design…

The story itself is wonderful – and if I could find a way to organise for Garth Nix to come to London for an event to celebrate the publication, I would – however, he lives, rather inconveniently, in Australia…