Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'd like to start off by saying that this is the first book I've ever read by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I have Dairy Queen on the way to my house, a book I ordered after reading more than enthusiastic reviews by fellow GoodReaders and which I know is YA. So when I saw Wisdom's Kiss on NetGalley, I decided to give it a try.
I'm pretty sure I can tell you that this is nothing like Dairy Queen, because this is a children's book. And a really weird one at that.
In the little town of Bacio lives Trudy aka Fortitude, a beautiful maid with a magical gift: she foresees events. Trudy is in love with Tips, her childhood friend who's left Bacio to become a soldier for the Emperor who writes her professing his love.
When Wisdom, aka Dizzy, princess of the kingdom of Montagne, arrives in the girl's town on her way to the Barony of Farina to marry the Baron, Roger, Trudy knows her life is going to change, and not for the better. Forced to accompany Dizzy and her Queen Mother, Ben, to Farina, Trudy will meet with Tips, get involved in a sordid plot to usurp the throne of Montagne and finally find her place in life.
Even though, in its essence, this book can be seen as your regular fairy tale, I think Wisdom's Kiss manages to break all rules in this genre. First of all it is a mix of adventure, magic, grotesque, comedy of errors and shakespearian play.
It's told in EIGHT different point of views, each different in its genre, format, writing style: an epistolary correspondence between Ben and her granddaughter Temperance, the recount of a narcissistic mentor, the "gentle observations" of the wicked villain, the letters of an illiterate beau, the urban-style diary of a rebel princess, the memoirs of a gentle maid, a playwright by anonymous and encyclopedic entries. All these elements, by means of flashbacks, definitions, storytelling and dialogues make up an original fairy tale as you've never seen it before.
I read loads and loads of YA lit and I wouldn't consider this book YA, even though it is categorized as such.
I'd say this is more middle grade level and therefore, when I started this book I had to leave behind my YA's forma mentis and enter in children's mode to fully appreciate it. Albeit a bit recalcitrant to adjust to it at the beginning, I can say I quite enjoyed this book that has got some hilarious parts.
My favorite quote - the characters are talking about spellcasting - is Tips':
Yet I confess I do not follow Her Majesty's thinking. How does spelling lend assistance - have you no dictionaries?
Talk about a brooding hunk. This guy can sure be dense.
Also, I liked the love triangle, which is far from canonic. I can't describe too much without spoiling it, suffice it to say that the Happily Ever After in this book is unusual and original and I am kind of happy that it ended like that. Nice change.
The only thing that did not convince me entirely in this book is the jargon used by both Dizzy and Tips. It is typical of new generations to deconstruct language in text messaging and in the Internet but, in this case, I found it a bit over the top. But it might be me. This kind of urban style language might appeal more to middle graders who are, end in end, the target audience of this fairy tale.
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