Review: Wisdom’s Kiss

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Wisdom’s KissWisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on September 13, 2011
Genres: Adventure, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Humor, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 314
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Princess Wisdom, known as Dizzy, longs for a life of adventure far beyond the staid old kingdom of Montagne.

Tips, a soldier, longs to keep his true life secret from his family.

Fortitude, an orphaned maid, longs only for Tips.

These three passionate souls might just attain their dreams while preserving Montagne from certain destruction, if only they can tolerate each other long enough to come up with a plan. Tough to save the world when you can't even be in the same room together.

Magic, cunning, and one very special cat join forces in this hilarious, extraordinary tale by the author of Dairy Queen and Princess Ben. An incredibly creative tale told with diaries, memoirs, encyclopedia entries, letters, biographies, even a stage play, all woven together into a grand adventure.

Although not obviously apparent for most of the book, this is actually a reimagined fairy tale. The whole thing does read like a fairy tale, with princesses and betrayal and cats and magic. What makes this book really stand out is the method that Murdock uses to tell the story. Most of the plot unfolds through characters memoirs written ex post facto, diary entries or letters written to others. There are also little snippets of plays interspersed between the other formats. These generally depicted a scene that had been already described but in extra-dramatic Shakespearean style. I thought this way of telling the story showed ingenuity and was surprisingly effective.

The characters, however, did not meet with similar satisfaction. So many of them were incredibly dumb, including the poorly-named wisdom. Really the only one I liked at all was Trudy, who had a seriously awkward ending. She’s the first character you meet, but her story is rattled off like a note in the end credits. The Queen Mother, who I believe is Ben from Princess Ben, one of Murdock’s earlier novels that I have not read, is awkward. If her young character is anything like this crazy grandmother, I’m not sure that I want to read that book. If young Ben is not this way, why would you do this to her? And what happened to her husband?

My only previous experience with Murdock was Dairy Queen, which I did not like. For one thing, I have no interest in football. For another, the main character was not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, which, since the story was written in first person, meant that the writing was not particularly good. Plus, she was a serious jerk to her best friend when the friend confessed that she was a lesbian. The writing in Wisdom’s Kiss was, for the most part better, although Tips’ letters drove me crazy.

All in all, this is a very odd book, but it was rather amusing and constructed in a unique manner. I enjoyed reading it and my opinion of Murdock has improved slightly, but she’s still not going to be a favorite author.


One response to “Review: Wisdom’s Kiss”

  1. Nori says:

    So, you did like Trudy! I felt so bad for her at the end! I love that we read this at the same time, so it’s still so fresh on my mind. For some reason though, the stupidity of some of the characters didn’t bother me as much as it did for you. To me, it made the whole thing read like satire, like it was making fun of normal princess stories in making all of its characters so singularly focused and almost absurd.

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