Born into royalty, Princess Madeline is pampered and loved by her dad, King Theodore; all the more so because she and her twin brother, Braden, survived their birth while their mother did not. Madeline grows up with all the pomp and splendor of her position, plus the education needed for her to take her role as queen some day.
Unfortunately for Madeline, that “someday” is upon her without her notice or her approval. On her sixteenth birthday, she is informed by her father that she must choose a husband from the invitees to her birthday ball and the next day’s tournament. As stubborn as her dad, and as adventurous as her brother, she rebels against what she considers restraints on her freedom. Braden and his sweetheart, Sophia–who is also Madeline’s best friend–try to get her to see that this betrothal to a complete stranger is a really good thing, but she will have none of it.
With no other recourse, she slips away from the festivities, trades clothes with a peasant girl in the village, and heads out on her own. And it isn’t too much longer before she is captured by bandits. Resourceful and daring, she escapes from them, only to be recaptured.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, Daniel (Madeline’s newly-dubbed knight) is as alarmed as everyone else at the news of Madeline’s disappearance. For years, he has adored her from afar, and he joins in the hunt immediately. His journey takes him to the mysterious land of the eastern kingdom, where he encounters wizards. These are the same ones who have been banished from the castle for what Theodore believes were lies surrounding his queen’s health, and thus her demise. They tell him of a way to find her, but it takes a long time to accomplish this quest. And when he does finally ride back to the castle, bad news greets him: Madeline’s bloodstained gown has been found.
Daniel mourns his loss and berates himself for not being fast enough to find his princess, until he realizes that something about the discovery is amiss. Out of the gates he pounds again, and this time he is able to find clues that no one else has discovered.
Reunited with her knight and happy to be home again, Madeline finally has made her point to her father. This time she gets her way–just like the daughter of a doting father should.
I absolutely love headstrong, resourceful young protagonists who stand up for what they believe. In that regard, Madeline is a lot like the girl in the movie “Brave”. I cheered when she made her decision to strike out on her own, but I was also very happy when Daniel was able to fetch her home. Everyone learns a lesson about rights and responsibilities in this tale, a book suitable for anyone who loves a happy ending.
The emotions of all the characters were very real, and Ms. Pulioff did a splendid job of weaving their relationships together. Small gestures as well as great were all written in a touching way that really showed that the characters cared for each other. I would definitely recommend this book for readers from 12 to adulthood. It was a great read.