While aimed at 10-14 year-olds I defy older readers not to enjoy this book.

A cheery but spoilt princess loses her parents to suspected assassins, and she comes under the care of her tyrannical aunt, the Queen Regent, who reluctantly endeavours to prepare her for queenship.

Murdock’s talent for intelligently humorous expression shines in her descriptions of Benevolence’s sly observations and continual misadventures.

Yet the self-pitying and indulgent princess begins to show signs of maturing, realising that courtesy towards others influences the way they treat her. She discovers a golden mean between overindulgence in food and vain concern for appearance, and even learns to appreciate table manners once she’s witnessed certain boorish soldiers at their meal… Thankfully, the one thing she does hold on to is her sense of humour.

There is just one reference made by the soldiers about women which makes the book inappropriate for even younger readers, though it could be passed over without too much notice. 

Adventure abounds, the plot twists and turns, an unconventional romance blooms, and all is brought together in an ending that turns conventional fairytales on their head.

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is the manager of Portico Books and editor of the soon to be launched www.GoodReadingGuide.com 

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is editor of The Good Reading Guide and manager of Portico Books,...