Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two Moon Princess, by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban--A Review

Tanglewood, ISBN 9781933718279, April 2010

I'm sorry to say that I was very disappointed in this book. The biggest problem is Princess Andrea herself. She's immature, self-absorbed, impulsive, and generally out of control. Initially this seems plausible for her age, since we're told that she's fourteen. However, it turns out that the year in her world is longer than ours, and in our years, she's seventeen. This does make the discussion of her admirers or lack thereof considerably less creepy, but even though seventeen-year-olds still have a fair bit of maturing to do, most of them are a great deal more mature than Andrea.

Andrea is the youngest of the four daughters of a king, Don Andres, and his queen Jimena. She's also the misfit, the tomboy, who wants to be a knight instead of a court lady. She's been indulged so far, training with the pages hoping to become squires to her father's knights, but with her fourteenth birthday, she is required to put away childish things and learn to be a lady. Unfortunately, she has so far failed to learn even some of the basics of court protocol, and already without any friends amongst the court ladies except the next-youngest princess, Margarida, she manages to actively offend people without intending to. She hopes for some support from her uncle, Tio Ramiro, her mother's brother, but even he thinks it's time for her to grow up. We do learn the interesting detail that no one really knows where Ramiro's castle is--and this of course is the key to much of the story.

Ramiro and his sister Queen Jimena are not native to Andrea's world, and when she tries to run away, Andrea winds up accidentally finding the portal to Ramiro's (and our) world on the night of a full moon, when it is active. She becomes an accidental visitor in her uncle's world, an unexpected burden and challenge to Ramiro (or, as we learn, Raymond Miller), and his daughter Kelsey.

The background on this world-hopping is that there are a small number of active gates between the two worlds. We are given no clue as to how they work, not even whether the principle behind them is magical or technological. Centuries ago, when the Muslims were conquering what we now know as Spain, a Spaniard King, Roderic, and his followers were defeated, and fleeing, and were directed to a gate that took them to the world of the Xaren-Ras. This new world has (as already mentioned), a longer year than ours, and also two moons each of which is larger than our one moon, and different stars in the sky, patterns that are visibly different to anyone who ever looks up at the sky. So this doesn't seem to be an alternate time line version of Earth, but a completely different, if equally habitable, world.

Except that it had a native population that the Spanish refugees were able to intermarry with.

Now, I concede that many people don't care about that kind of inconsistency. What's less excusable, are the number of stupid decisions Andrea makes. She's a very intelligent (if immature) young lady who quickly learns English and the basics of living in our world and becoming, with the help of her uncle who is a professor at UC Davis, a college student. In her own world, though, she consistently makes stupid decisions, misinterprets other people's words in unlikely ways, and thinks everything is all about her. When Don Julian, in the midst of a fever delirium, blurts out a promise to his father to avenge his death, Andrea actually believes that he's lied to her, her mother, and Raymond/Ramiro about the agreement they've reached to stop the war that's about to get lots of men killed. It doesn't occur to her that it's far more likely that he's simply reliving in his fever the long-ago moment when he did plan to avenge his father's death and reclaim the lands lost in that conflict--something he has since done. She sees Don Julian talking to her sister Margarida, and despite her sister having told her quite recently how much in love she is with his brother Don Alphonse, she assumes Margarida and Julian are falling for each other, and not talking about Alphonse. This is, of course, after she's had a very difficult time grasping the fact that Julian is not in love with her sister Rosa, but had proposed to her because it was a suitable alliance, and declared war when the betrothal was broken off because it was a huge insult and also eliminated the basis for a peace agreement with her father's kingdom.

In the end, this all comes to a reasonably satisfactory conclusion, and Andrea even becomes more mature and less annoying in the last few pages, but it's a rough slog getting there.

Not recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.