The Conjurer Princess

Vivian Vande Velde

HarperPrism. $4.99

16-year-old Lylene's sister has been kidnaped, stolen away from her own wedding. Since no one else will help, Lylene decides to rescue Beryl herself. A bad bargain with the local wizard leaves her with the ability to make a magical duplicate of anything she touches; she is also now physically about seventy years old. But, the wizard tells her sneeringly, she can wish those extra years onto other people -- one year at a time, or all at once. And one other thing: those magical duplicates will vanish at midnight.

In short order Lylene is accused of witchcraft, and rescued by two handsome bandits, whom she may or may not have hired; the bandits, Shile and Weiland, can't seem to agree on that themselves. With angry townsfolk behind and a castle full of soldiers ahead, Lylene's prospects look bleak. Then the wizard shows up again, and this time he's feeling really spiteful.

The Conjurer Princess is just another mediocre fantasy set in medieval Europe; there is nothing really wrong with it, but also nothing to distinguish it. What's most disappointing is that Vivian Vande Velde has written several very good books for young adults, among them Dragon's Bait, Companions of the Night, and Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird. The Conjurer Princess is Vande Velde's first novel intended for the "adult" fantasy market, and her uncertainty in writing for what she perceives as a different audience shows. Perhaps she will be more comfortable with her forthcoming book, The Changeling Prince, a companion novel which appears to be about Weiland.


The Changeling Prince. HarperPrism, 1998


This review copyright 1997 by Wendy Morris

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