I read another book by Diane Zahler, "The Thirteenth Princess" and was not impressed by her work - the story, while cute was too flat, predictable and cloying. However, I adore fairy tales and princess stories so I eagerly devour any and all I can get my hands on. Thus I decided to give Zahler another try. I'm glad I did.
This story is much improved over the last one I read. By no means is it particularly brillant, but I found it to be a very adorable story. Zahler's writing quality and characterization strengthened in this piece, though there is nothing that truly stands out about it like Jessica Day George's or Shannon Hale's work. It may not neccesarily be 4 star quality by most standards, but I decided on four stars more because I thought the story was just so darn cute!
The True Princess essentially is a retelling of the Princess and the Pea. Overall, it is a good read but there are a few parts that drag the story down slightly, I think. Mainly, I think she was doing a little too much. With the Princess and the Pea plot threa, the Odin's Hunt plot and the Elf King plot, I feel like she was trying to cram three different stories into one and I don't think it really wove together in a completely seamless and cohesive way. I get that she was using Norse mythology as the backdrop, and I like that, but I still feel it wasn't fully realized. It came off simply as three different story ideas she was attempting to join. While it wasn't totally successful, I liked the elements on their own and appreciate the setting, characters and story enough to go with it.
Another issue was that the whole aspect of royalty having some kind of special-ness in them that made it impossible to sleep on any beds but "royal bed", being able to communicate with royalty and having supernatural grace wasn't fully explored. I really wish Zahler had explained that aspect of the world more. I can totally go with there being some kind of mystical or magical powers that royalty innately has, but I need it addressed more clearly rather than just casually put forth.
But in spite of its shortcomings, I really did enjoy this book. It was just such a nice, sweet and innocent story. Is it for everyone? No. But if you are looking for a cute, light-hearted read, it's a good pick.