Publishers Weekly Review
Princess Anya just wants to be left alone to study magic, but her feckless older sister, Morven, keeps falling madly in love with visiting princes-until their "evil stepstepfather," Duke Rikard, transforms the suitors into frogs. Now Rikard is threatening to usurp the crown and send Anya off to a boarding school from which she's unlikely to return. What's a princess to do? In this rollicking comic fantasy from Old Kingdom creator Nix, Anya sets off on a quest to find allies and revert the transformed royals by assembling the ingredients for "Fairly Reliable Transmogrification Reversal Lip Balm," accompanied by her sister's most recent suitor, Prince Denholm (currently a frog); her faithful if overzealous dog, Ardent; and a boy-turned-newt named Shrub. Along the way, she's dogged by Rikard's weasel assassins and a series of journalists, all named Gerald the Herald, who constantly shout headlines like "The Frogkisser Sets Forth! Herald Detained by Druid Accomplice! More News to Come!" Well-developed characters, an unfailing sense of humor, and polished prose make Nix's uproarious adventure a pleasure to read. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Grinberg Literary Management. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-Anya, a 13-year-old princess, loves nothing more than reading in her favorite chair. But after she makes a "sister promise" to her elder sibling to turn a frog back into a prince, she finds herself on a quest for a magic lip balm that sends her far from her beloved castle library. Along the way, she learns that wizards offer help but only when asked; witches like trickery, so it's better to strike a modest bargain with them; and giants are nearsighted, but their noses are so sensitive that they can smell lies. This delightful fantasy pits the small but mighty Anya against a sorcerer, Rikard, for control of the kingdom Trallonia. Nix grounds readers with practical asides, such as how to go to the bathroom without embarrassment when there is no toilet. He also has a gift for imaginative names, settings, dilemmas, and resolutions. Best of all, he invites readers to question the adult world along with his protagonist. Ardent, a talking royal dog, is as restless and uncertain as Anya, but he helps guide her. Not that she's asking for assistance: "I don't expect to need rescuing," she tells him once before a particularly dangerous separation. "I'm not that kind of princess." VERDICT With wonderfully inventive creatures, challenging vocabulary, and a captivating story, this fantasy is recommended as a first purchase for YA collections.-Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Princess Anya is in a bind. Her stepstepfather Duke Rikard (who happens to be an evil sorcerer) is plotting to steal the crown, her older sister's suitor has been transformed into a frog, and Anya has promised to help turn him back into a prince but she's fresh out of the transmogrification-reversal lip balm she needs for the job. There's nothing for it but to embark on a quest to gather the hard-to-come-by lip balm ingredients and hopefully devise a way to stop the duke while she's at it. Anya is accompanied by Ardent, an eager (talking) royal dog, and it isn't long before their journey takes on a more significant purpose. Playing on fairy tale tropes and conventions, Nix (Newt's Emerald, 2015) delivers a delightful adventure stuffed with absurdity, magic, and a spirited young heroine. Beneath these entertaining trappings lies a heartfelt message of justice and fair treatment for all. As for Anya, there's always room for leading ladies like her: I don't expect to need rescuing. I'm not that kind of princess. --Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist