Book Review: The Ugly Princess

The Ugly Princess
by Elizabeth K. Burton
Published by Zumaya Publications

The only thing wrong with this book is the cover. Blech. (Although the irony is cute.)

But I didn’t beg the author to point me to an e-copy (which she so obligingly sent me in a format I could use, yay customer service!) because or in spite of it. (It’s only currently available in dead-tree version; I expect it’ll show up on Fictionwise soon.)

Here’s the official blurb:

The king is dead, long live the queen!

Well, not if the King of Nadwich and the dead monarch’s three royal ministers have anything to say about it.

It’s up to Sir Christopher Evergild, the Royal Champion, to see that the new queen survives to take her throne—even if she is so ugly she’s been locked away for twenty years with only trolls for company. Chris is prepared to do his duty, even if The Ugly Princess does turn out to be the lunatic she’s always been rumored to be.

What he isn’t ready for is having his entire world turned upside down and inside out—and having to decide between love and the fear that has haunted him most of his life.

This is going to be a short review because, well, I loved everything about it. After speaking with the author, however, I have a feeling she and I share sensibilities in our stories, so take everything I say with that in mind. Or not.

This is a fantasy with sweet romantic elements and I love the sweet stories as much as I love the hawt ones. There is no swearing or sex (oh, maybe a “damn” or “hell” here and there, but I can’t remember). It’s set in the imaginary world of Karlathia, which I envision as a fairy-tale village whose battle technology is a weird mix of firearms and medieval hand-to-hand combat.

It has two narrators (Bertram, the kingdom’s seneschal, and Christopher, its army’s chief general), and is split into first and third person, which I love. In the almost-omniscient first person, the prose is loose and funny, yet cozy because it breaks the fourth wall, yet is more formal and intense (and removed, natch) in third person. Both suit the respective narrators’ personalities very well.

Descriptions as seen through the seneschal’s first-person point of view were sharp:

He [evil monarch] cut his food into tiny bites, chewing each one thoroughly before swallowing. He did not mix the fare on his plate, finishing one item entirely before proceeding to the next.

Those two brief sentences tell me a whole lot about that character.

Bertram’s overstated understatements and asides make me smile and laugh (in fact, I’d go so far as to say he upstages Christopher, but that is not to the story’s detriment):

Going to the aforementioned clothes press, I discovered my host had an exceedingly eclectic wardrobe–everything from complete Court regalia to a set of rags that seemed held together mostly by optimism.


Demtri [idiot nephew of evil monarch], seemingly oblivious to what was happening, sat on the throne with a large bowl of grapes on his lap, tossing them in the air and attempting to catch them in his mouth. His aim was not particularly commendable.


At this point I struggled not to draw my pistol and punctuate Niklaes’s arrogance with a lead period.

It was a very fun and funny read. Bonus! I learned a new word: eldritch.

Liz, give me your Paypal address because I want to pay you for this.

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