Open the pages and you won’t be disappointed, for what follows is a magical adventure with amazing creatures and fantastical places, all to be found just on the edge of reality, if only you could squeeze through the lilac hedge at the bottom of the garden to find it.
Luckily for us, this is just what Matilda and her sister, Iris, do. Lucky for the denizens of this enchanting world, too, as the girls come to their rescue from a dreadful evil that Matilda has inadvertently awakened.
It is easy to connect immediately with Matilda and Iris, who just don’t seem to be able to get along when they are stuck with each other during the school holidays, and they are as different from one another as ‘honey and pickles’. A sisterly tiff leads to Matilda hiding Iris’s lucky penny in the hedge as revenge for wrecking her princess hat... but then the penny goes missing and, before you know it, the world inside the lilac hedge is in peril!
Matilda is mistaken for a royal princess, and the prophecy says that she will save their world, so, despite not feeling much like a princess, she finds she has to be noble and loyal and brave, especially when her sister is in danger and she is the only one who can save her.
The story is fast-paced, filled with sweetness and light (or warm cinnamon sugar and toffee apples) and just enough darkness and gloom to raise the pulse rate. There are mythical creatures, both good and evil, and there is mystery, treachery and courage, leading to a warmly satisfying conclusion ... with an unexpected twist.
As well as words that slide together to draw the reader deeper into the story, including the intriguing chapter headings, such as 'Wherein questions are likened to chocolates', there are intricate and delightful illustrations throughout, all giving this gorgeous story a fabulous and compelling liveliness.
The Accidental Princess is a beautifully told story, filled with warmth and gentle humour, for anyone who knows that there is magic, just over there ... not quite out of reach.
Title: The Accidental Princess
Author: Jen Storer
Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo
Publisher: Puffin, $14.99
Publication Date: 4 January 2016
For ages: 7+
Type: Junior Fiction