A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sophia, Princess Among Beasts is a teen fantasy from the prolific James Patterson and contributor Emily Raymond. Sophia is a 17-year-old sheltered monarch who loses both her parents (her mother from childbirth, her father is stabbed). She falls ill from a plague that kills many from the local village and travels from the living world to another plane with violent beasts. In both worlds, there are a number of stabbing deaths (human and beast) in the gut and neck and even the eye from daggers and swords, with blood and gore described. One murderer explains how the blade sounds going into human flesh with delight. One stabbing death happens after a sexual assault. There's also a battle with deaths and injuries from swords and arrows. Other mature content includes drinking ale and wine mostly at dinners -- Sophia has honey wine once. "S--t" is uttered a few times. Sophia begins the story as a naive princess who doesn't understand the harsh lives the peasants lead. By the end, she embraces her role as a just, brave, and compassionate queen.
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What's the story?
In SOPHIA, PRINCESS AMONG BEASTS, Sophia is roused from her daily grooming routine by a maid's frantic declaration: The ruthless King Ares and his army, who have already conquered and destroyed many kingdoms, are headed their way. Sophia's father, King Leonidas, doesn't want Sophia to worry, but he still outfits her with cavalry when she makes her weekly trip to the impoverished village. Despite all this protection, there's nothing the soldiers can do about what Sophia finds there: people dying of a plague called the Seep, and a teen named Rafael with a good throwing arm. He pelts Sophia with dung and yells about the poor treatment of the villagers until he's thrown in the dungeon. That night an assassin sneaks into the castle and kills the king just as Sophia falls ill with the Seep. When she wakes up, she's in a carriage driven by ghoulish creatures. She's suddenly in a world populated by beasts, including the fearsome King Ares, with no idea how to get home again.
Is it any good?
This small morsel of a fantasy will get you through family vacation travel swimmingly with warring kingdoms and monstrous creatures and assassins and a trip to another dimension. Sophia, Princess Among Beasts packs a lot in 320 pages. For regular fantasy readers, though, it may not be enough to make the book memorable. A trip into an unknown world seems sketched out rather than filled with the lush detail it deserves, and few answers are given as to how the worlds are intertwined.
Sophia has a nice metamorphosis in the story while other characters feel one dimensional. The beasts, who seem to be from a hodgepodge of various myths and folklore, are also hard to picture. Many get killed off so fast, though, that the confusion passes, the book ends, and you pick up another James Patterson bestseller for the ride home.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Sophia's transformation in Sophia, Princess Among Beasts. What did she look like in the living world? How did she change when she crossed over? What made her change back?
What answers does Sophia get about the world of beasts she's entered? How do the worlds cross over? What's left unexplained?
Most fantasies turn into series. Would this book make a good series?
- Authors: James Patterson, Emily Raymond
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company
- Publication date: July 15, 2019
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: July 15, 2019
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