Author: Kelly Barnhill
Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
My rating: 4.5 of 5
In a kingdom in the middle of the mirrored world rule a king (really, more a scientist who prefers his research over politics) and his queen (a truly regal lady who cares deeply for her people but never can seem to have children of her own). Finally, the royal couple have a daughter, Princess Violet . . . who is nothing like the princesses in all the stories. Violet is a reckless, wild child who could never be considered beautiful. Of course, she would much rather spend her time cavorting around with her best friend, the stable boy Demetrius, or listening to stories than waste it on learning lessons and manners and such like. When one of their explorations of the castle’s secret passages leads Violet and Demetrius to a deep, hidden chamber, the princess unleashes a story that has been kept secret for centuries . . . a story that just might destroy her world.
As with her earlier work, The Mostly True Story of Jack, Kelly Barnhill creates an excellent work in Iron Hearted Violet. The characters are unconventional and appealing. The concepts of the way the world is put together are also unique and intriguing. Barnhill’s writing style is both approachable and rich (a difficult balance to achieve), and the ideas behind the plot are fearful and gripping. I think one of the most appealing aspects of Iron Hearted Violet (to me at least) was the imperfections of the characters–all of them seem to have very human flaws, yet even these flaws have an important part to play in the development of the story. This is definitely a recommended read.