Posted by Venus on Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Snail, a midwife's apprentice, and a rather poor one at that, is used to bad luck. Aspen, a Seelie Prince kept as hostage in the Unseelie Court, is also no stranger to misfortune. When his father threatens war, Aspen knows he must escape or his life is forfeit. However, being a Prince comes with a certain amount of responsibility, and he cannot stop himself from rescuing a gaggle of midwifes from the dungeon. Thus, Aspen and Snail become two rather unlikely companions. Not all is at it seems though and they quickly learn that they may well have jumped out of one fire right into another.
I really enjoyed this written by the ever fabulous Jane Yolen and her son, Adam Stemple. I have always been rather curious about how one writes a book with another person. There are certainly some wonderful writing duos out there, but how do two people share the same vision for a book? That aside, this was a wonderful book. Snail is headstrong and clumsy, traits that set her apart from her fellow servants and draw the unwanted attention of the royals. Aspen, unlike the Unseelie Princes finds that he is, for a royal, rather kind-hearted. However, it is second nature for him to look down his nose at Snail and he often wonders why he doesn't hit, hurt, abuse, verbally accost, or even kill this girl who talks to him so familiarly. It is a battle of wills between this duo.
The story itself is rather plot driven, which means that it did take a little time for the story to really ramp up. Two-thirds of the way through is when I really became interested, not that there hadn't been interesting and entertaining things beforehand, but it wasn't until Aspen and Snail were really on the road that their relationship began to grow and I found Aspen to be more bearable. There had always been this hint at how nice Aspen could be, if only he weren't a royal, but it was nice when he finally began to act nice, not out of obligation as a Prince, but because he wanted to.
The twist in the end wasn't like The Thief or even The False Prince, but it was enough to give me pause and I like middle graders will eat it up. On the whole, I think The Hostage Prince is a nice addition to the fantasy genre and I look forward to the next book in the series.