This charming story opens with Princess Anya helpfully rescuing a frog, one of her older sister’s suitors. But Princess Morven refuses to kiss it to turn it back into Prince Denholm and the only way to return the prince to his true form depends on a special lip balm. But the lip balm has run out and before she can work out how to make some more Princess Anya discovers her step stepfather, the evil sorcerer Prince Rikard, has plans to send her away to school on a perilous journey from which she is unlikely to return. There is nothing for it but to set off on a quest to find the ingredients to make the lip balm accompanied by one of the trusty royal dogs Ardent.
They are joined on their journey by some wonderfully oddball characters; Shrub a would-be thief who has been turned into a large newt, Smoothie the otter who has been turned into a half human plus any amount of frogs to be turned back into their rightful form. They gain the trust and help of allies along the way from Roberta (Bert) the Robin Hood-like leader of the Association of Responsible Robbers plus a Good Wizard who has a fabulous line in glamourous shoes, not to mention the numerous lookalike Gerald the Heralds who turn up everywhere and speak only in headlines.
Along the way Princess Anya learns a lot about life; how power corrupts, that loyalty of one’s friends is paramount and how important it is to do the right thing. Her growing sense of responsibility plus her natural quick wittedness gives her the courage she needs to defeat Prince Rikard in the final battle. This novel has everything you could possibly want in a fairytale and more – humour, wit, a feisty princess and of course frogs. There are nods to every classic fantasy you have ever read here and the whole makes for a supremely satisfying read. It’s a handsome production and has some very lovely frog endpapers too.