From Publishers Weekly
Debut author Stengl conjures the fantastic world of Parumvir. The kingdom's Princess Una is courted by Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore. She, however, finds him insufficiently romantic and much too boring in his concerns for her safety as a dragon approaches the kingdom. When Una makes the wrong choice, catastrophe ensues for the princess and her family, and love, courage, and trust are needed when darkness engulfs the kingdom. Allegory is hard at work here--occasionally too hard, when the intended meaning drives the plot instead of the plot being driven by the momentum of events. But Stengl does let her imagination run in inventing some delightful things and scenes: the Twelve-Year Market that appears in its own good time and sells fairy goods; a clever blind cat who is invariably underfoot and has, of course, a secret. Since they never get enough to read in this small market niche, Christian fantasy fans will be particularly enthralled by this first in the Tales of Goldstone Wood. A clever debut from an author worth watching.
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–This captivating romantic fantasy carries readers on an adventure that begins in the privileged prosperity of the peaceful kingdom of Parumvir and then descends to the dark desolation of a dragon's lair. Princess Una, 18, is strong-willed, immature, and courted by princes who have many reasons to desire her. One sees her as a way to escape the consequences of his poor choices. Another thinks he is in love but, when pressured into making a difficult decision, easily disavows his pledge. Aethelbald of Farthestshore is a mysterious faerie prince whose steadfast love and selfless service annoy Una and provoke her to set her will against him. When the princess makes some foolish choices, she finds that she has taken a path that will lead to her destruction, but the prince who truly loves her is willing to pay the ultimate price to set her free. This is a quick-paced, thoughtful tale of love, betrayal, loyalty, and trust with a hero whose character calls to mind Aslan, in C. S. Lewis's “Narnia” series. Watching the growth of the princess from a headstrong young woman to one ready to learn from others allows readers a glimpse into the workings and intricacies of the human heart. It unmasks some of traps that can ensnare the young and sidetrack them on the road to maturity. A fun debut novel that is hard to put down and carries a strong message about the importance of making good choices.–Debra Banna, Sharon Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.