HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Haddix is no stranger to best-seller lists, and she has another hit on her hands with the Palace Chronicles. Buy multiple copies, and expect eager, advance requests for them. (Booklist January 1, 2015)
Haddix continues the series that began with the alternate "Cinderella" Just Ella (1999) with a story about a different princess.Princess Desmia, raised as the true princess of Suala, now rules with 12 other princesses, each raised similarly and separately. When a fire destroys their palace, apparently killing most of the other princesses, Desmia finds herself in the clutches of the evil Madame Bisset. Escaping, she finds her true sister, Janelia, along with a troupe of ragged boys who look to Janelia as their Mam. Desmia decides she must somehow travel to neighboring Fridesia to find friends Ella and Jeb, so with Janelia and two boys, Herk and Tog, she sets out surreptitiously across an open landscape that terrifies the sheltered young woman. Desmia strives to conquer her fears and to quell the princess training that constantly tells her she's superior, gradually coming to see her new friends as equals. Finally arriving at the Fridesian palace, she meets the terminally handsome but reputedly stupid Prince Charming, whom she must convince of the truth of her tale. Haddix keeps the plot suspenseful even as she delves into Desmia's new insights, providing plenty of entertainment along with some advice for life. Readers who enjoyed the earlier books will find plenty to like here, as the book even adds a hint of romance for Desmia. A welcome return to the Just Ella universe. (Kirkus Reviews February 1, 2015)
Raised in the palace of Suala to believe she is the true princess, Desmia is still adjusting to having twelve sisters who were each also raised to believe they are the true princess. Because they were all raised in secret, however, they do not have Desmia’s experience with court intrigue, treachery, and manipulation, and before she can coach them in navigating her world, a shocking fire destroys the palace and possibly everyone Desmia has grown to care about.
The third of Haddix’s The Palace Chronicles is burdened with a weak plot and the frequently whiny narrative voice of Desmia, a difficult heroine to root for. Her repeated ruminations about how untrustworthy everyone may be and her treatment of the new family she discovers after she has been kidnapped make her seem selfish and paranoid, even when the reader takes into account her years of being sheltered and manipulated by the palace advisors. An injury that requires her to be carried for most of her rescue mission and a full-fledged panic attack once she is out under open skies could have made her seem more sympathetic but instead do the opposite. When Desmia and her entourage finally arrive at the neighboring kingdom, the plot against them is unraveled so quickly and so neatly it seems like an afterthought. Fans of the series may be interested in continuing the saga, but they will find little of the charm of the previous two books.—Vikki Terrile. (VOYA April 2015)
Desmia was raised to be the one true princess. She soon discovers that 12 other girls were raised to believe the same. Just as she’s coming to care for her sister-princesses, a fire destroys everything. The pampered former princess finds herself on the run without the luxuries she’s come to know. Though this title can stand alone independent of the previous two novels, only die-hard fans will clamor for it. An additional purchase. (School Library Journal June 2015)
"Haddix is no stranger to best-seller lists, and she has another hit on her hands with the Palace Chronicles. Buy multiple copies, and expect eager, advance requests for them." (Booklist)
"A welcome return to the Just Ella universe." (Kirkus Reviews)