Two must be told.
Eve feels as if she’s been cursed her entire life.
Yet far, far away in Mare-Marie, where magic is banned, a peculiar Princess remains indoors, unable to bare the outside world.
Eve escapes into her mind, searching for a switch…to turn off her thoughts.
But when fears take over and anxiety digs its claws.
Length - 610 Pages
Star Rating - 5
Paul Ikin's illustrations are expertly bold and eye catching, so much so it made it impossible for me to scroll through my endless Twitter feed without stopping to find out more about this book. Within a few seconds, I decided I had to read this book.
The story centres around Evelin Boots, AKA Eve. Struggling to overcome anxiety, Eve creates the fantasy world of Princess Belleny: Mare-Marie, transporting the reader to a world of fantastical beasts and enchanting scenery.
Firstly: Eve. Beautiful, misunderstood and so uncannily the perfect teenage misfit, Eve. She will steal your heart from page one; grab you, move you, force you to feel. Eve doesn't sugar coat the truth. She understands the limitations of her anxiety and wears it with pride. She surrounds herself with only those who she feels comfortable with, and this in itself is such a beautiful part of the story.
There is a part of me that loves Eve's character because she isn't the helpless female lead. Yes, she is dealing with her own limitations, yet her strength comes from her ability to admit that she isn't perfect, making her a worthy role model to teens and pre-teens.
Secondly: Princess Belleny. Unlike Eve, Princess Belleny lives in a kingdom, the daughter of King Vasilis Vera. Confined to her room, she shares her life with a pack of gloriously unusual beasts. Princess Belleny shares common personality traits of Eve, and as the two stories move forward, the changes in Princess Belleny's life reflect how Eve is coping mentally.
The world of Mare-Marie comes to life not only within the descriptions of the Princess' beasts, but also the kingdom itself. As the Princess discovers the world outside of her castle, the gardens surround you, capturing the beautiful essence of Eve's growth in reality. It's a step back into your childhood where you spent countless hours in Oz or Narnia with characters that you fell in love with, unsure of what felt more real: Reality or fantasy?
Within the two worlds, you meet an endless list of characters, all with their own quirks, however I can't end this review without mentioning The Weatherman. He was the stand out for me, and a wonderfully mad hatter. And that's exactly what the conversations between The Weatherman and Eve are like: those of Alice and The Mad Hatter. He is so incredibly thought out and infectious that his humorous attitude forces a smile to your face from the very moment his character is introduced.
Of course, I can't forget to mention the illustrations. Described as reminiscent of Hans Christian Anderson, each beautiful drawing captures the essence of the chapter to follow. A beautiful addition to an already wondrous story, the intricate black and white illustrations make this novel something special.
This story is thoughtful and engaging; meaningful and daring. I highly recommend this book for all, especially the YA market. Within Eve's magical world of Princess Belleny, there is a lesson to be learned, and we will all benefit from it.