The Runaway Princess
I guess how you feel about The Runaway Princess is going to depend on what you are expecting when you pick it up. I expected a European Historical taking place “somewhere in The Pyrenees” in 1816. I didn’t get that. Not necessarily a bad thing; surprises can be very nice. But in this case, it’s a very confusing and often outrageously, blatantly anachronistic thing. With so many errors, I have to assume this was either purposeful on the part of the author, or the editor was fully submerged in the mythical and geographically unlikely hot springs of Baminia.
Evangeline Scoffield was raised in a horrible (aren’t they all?) London orphanage until she was rescued, at the age of eleven, by Leona, a moneyed lady of letters. Leona taught the intelligent and feisty Evangeline seven languages, including the obscure “dialect” of Baminian. Along with these language lessons, she relayed to Evangeline the entire history of Baminia, and it’s sister/rival kingdom, Serephinia, including facts, fancies, and prophecies only the royal families of these two tiny kingdoms would have been privy to.
One day, Leona apparently decides to divorce herself from life and walks off, leaving Evangeline with an inheritance she didn’t officially inherit. Evangeline takes the money, buys herself some nifty threads, and heads to a spa in the Pyrenees. She plans to enjoy herself until she has to go back to England where she will use the rest of Leona’s money to buy a bookstore, and live out the remainder of her spinsterly days in obscurity.
While on her retreat, Evangeline is kidnapped by Crown Prince Danior of Baminia, who insists she is Princess Ethelinda of Serephinia, and his intended bride. The remainder of the story is a road trip from the spa to The Palace of the Two Kingdoms, where the Revealing and subsequent wedding will take place.
This might have been a really good book, if I ever could have figured out what the author wanted to do here. If this wasn’t a straight European Historical, what was it? It had elements of mysticism and magic, the hero is a prince, two mythical kingdoms are to be reunited as one after a thousand years, there are prophecies that only the real princess can fulfill, and there are no horses. The hero carries the heroine on his back throughout the entire story – you know, piggyback. Through the entire story. This was not only unrealistic, it was downright stupid-looking in the movie-screen of my mind.
While the plot was workable, and the hero and heroine definitely appealing (sexy Danior certainly had his moments), the plotting inconsistencies overshadowed the things I liked about this story to such a degree that I truly cannot decide whether I liked or disliked this book?!? Parts of it were an A (the writing and some of the dialogue), and parts were an F (the rest). In what I can only suppose was an effort to take historical fiction and update it with some modern language, it wasn’t made clear enough that this was a fantasy (and therefore all the rules were subject to being broken), or simply a “zany” historical. Because I was so confused, I couldn’t just settle back and enjoy this book.
As for the anachronistic stuff, we are asked to believe that the heroine really would say “yuck” in 1816, when the word did not come into common usage until 1966! But the book was riddled with inconsistent terms: cranky, moniker, yeah, rotisserie, underdog, slob, and come (as in, well, you know), the etymology of these words shows they did not appear in common usage until 1821, 1851, 1902, 1920, 1887, 1861, and 1923, respectively. Was this simply sloppy research and writing? If I knew, it would have made a difference. But as it was, to see these words used in a historical context simply did not work for me, and was a jolt to my system each time I came across one.
There were other problems (such as the heroine constantly escaping to run directly into the arms of the enemy, and a choppy, confusing “battle” scene near the end), but, having said all that, if my peeves about this book don’t bother you, you will likely enjoy The Runaway Princess. The ultimate ending is clever and the story moves along at a good clip (on Danior’s back, but, well, never mind).
Anyway, that’s my own, personal take on things. I think this is a case where you’re just going to have to decide for yourself how you feel about The Runaway Princess. As for me, I’m still lost. And, oh, the minus in the C- is for the name Baminia. Puh-leeze.