I read, I write, and I majored in German and Muggle Studies. my favorite genres are historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Lookout for reviews of the YA and MG persuasions!
Young Mally Biddle's adventurous foray into the world outside her town is both charming and sweet. While the story itself is predictable, the cast of characters are lovable enough to make up for it.
The Kingdom of Lenzar suffers from a plague of knights who amuse themselves by terrorizing its citizens. Things were not always this way--but the tragic deaths of the royal family years before ensured that more sad events would come to pass. A group of angry and righteous citizens decide in their desperation to discover what they can about the death of the infant princess--and so young peasant Mally Biddle becomes a servant in the tricky, dangerous Bosc Castle.
Mally is an enchanting protagonist--she makes mistakes, she often makes decisions based upon her emotions and impulse instead of logic, and she has a good head for what is right and what is wrong. Her spunk and quirkiness aren't too much--they're just right. The other protagonists in the books aren't quite as developed as Mally, but they are still interesting enough to keep the reader focused on the book.
There seem to be long stretches in the narrative where there isn't much action, but the other little mysteries kept me reading.
That being said, there are a few things that could have made the story stronger. There is a Christmas celebration in the book, but no mention of any of the characters ever attending a church or service. I felt as though the ends tied up a little too quickly and neatly at the end of the book (although the story has a fairy-tale like feel, it was still too quick of an ending). Seeing as how Bosc was in trouble internally with the horrible behavior of the knights, I wondered about the other kingdoms--any at all--and wished for some inclusion of a foreign element in the book.
This book would appeal to middle grade readers who love tales of castles, princesses, and or fairy tales. The plot might be a little too simplistic for older teens who favor stories with a little more heft and detail. But overall, The Tale of Mally Biddle is an innocent, fun read--the perfect sort of read on a rainy day with a cup of cocoa nearby.
•note: I recieved an e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback.