Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #15

TITLE: The Persnickety Princess
GENRE: Middle Grade Historical Fantasy

The line-up flowed all the way across the Great Hall, out the double doors, down the corridor outside, to disappear around the corner. Everyone brought presents. The first suitor in line had a tiger on a leash. The second one had a huge treasure chest full of gold. The third man brought a ruby as big as a baseball, a box of jewels, a rolled-up exotic carpet, and a baby elephant.

Roland was fourth in line. He had nothing impressive, just his grandmother’s old engagement ring that needed polishing, and a bouquet of flowers he had picked along the way.

“Nine Lords a leaping, where is she?” the man in front of Roland said. “This is taking forever.”

“Good thing we got here early,” Roland said. He had received the notice just like every other eligible man in the land: On the third day of May, all candidates interested in marrying Princess Penelope have the opportunity to propose. Signed, King Wilhelm.

Roland expected other suitors to show up, just not so many of them and with so much more to offer. He glanced down at his bouquet, which wilted along with his hopes.

A trumpet sounded.

“Here she comes,” whispered the third man, as everyone turned toward the doors.

But it was just King Wilhelm and Queen Gertrude. The Queen flopped onto her throne and yawned, as if in for a long day. The King scanned the line-up, searching for something. Or someone. He smiled, nodding and winking Roland’s way.


  1. This promises something fun. I wanted the princess to arrive rather than the king and queen though. Can you get her in faster? You have a loose, conversational style which suits MG. One tiny thing - is the reference to a baseball too contemp for historical fantasy? And I like the Queen 'flopping' down but would cut 'as if in for a long day.' Sounds a bit awkward. Good job.

  2. This looks like a fun spin on a fairy-tale. I loved the list of presents -- a baby elephant! And I immediately sympathized with Roland and his old ring and wilting bouquet.

    I'm curious about where the story is going, since it doesn't appear to have a typical middle-grade protagonist, but I agree with Elizabeth that the tone is right. I agree with her suggested edits as well.

  3. I'm already rooting for Roland and his wilted flowers! Curiosity has gotten the better of me here, what with the king winking at Roland.

    I'd love to read more.

  4. Elizabeth caught it. Baseball might be to modern for historical fiction. I just hope the princess isn't middle grade age. That seems too young but back in the day they married young.

  5. You had me at the title! This sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun! It’s well-written and humorous. I have only minor things to suggest:

    Delete “to disappear,” “exotic” (how does he know?), “to show up,” (in: other suitors to show up), “of them” (in: not so many of them), “down” (in: down at the bouquet).

    I’d also suggest deleting “‘Here she comes,’ whispered the third man” and just let the king and queen make their “entrance.” (I didn’t mind the king and queen coming first. They ARE the king and queen, after all.) But the flopping didn’t seem to fit, even though it’s supposed to be humorous. You could have her do something else like sit imperiously and then try to stifle a noisy (I know you can find a better word—raucous?) yawn. Just a thought. (I agree about the baseball ref.)

    The last line really has me wondering what’s going to happen!

  6. Of course we can all guess right here who's going to end up marrying the princess! But in unexpected ways...I hope I'm right!

    The description of the presents was great, but I'm glad you didn't go on for too long before giving us Roland as our focus. I also didn't think it was fair for the third person to have four presents when everyone else just had one! Maybe you can solve your baseball problem by cutting that present.

    Are the other men accompanied by royal guards or assistants? I'd think you'd have to be to carry in a carpet and an elephant!

    I'm also curious about why Roland would want to marry the princess. Her riches? Her beauty? Has he ever met or seen her before? Hopefully we'll find this out soon!

    The king winking makes me think that he might already know Roland. This could be true or not, but I hope we find out why he winks!

    I'd read on.

  7. This is an intriguing opening, but I already wonder whether this is middle grade if the focus is marrying the princess. That is, unless Roland and Penelope are going to end up friends, rivals, or frenemies, rather than husband and wife.

    Since you claim this story is historical, the baseball reference threw me a bit. A bit more world building (just a line or two) might help establish time period and what sort of kingdom we're dealing with here.

    All this said, I'm already inclined to like and root for Roland. And I'm curious whether the king recognized him.