It is always a good sign when I finish a book in one night. I did it with Harry Potters 4/5/6 & 7 ; Garth Nix’s Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen; Philip Pullman’s novels were regularly devoured into the small hours; Terry Pratchett had me laughing while my eyes were held open with matchsticks* and now I can add this hilarious and hugely entertaining novel, Trouble with Parsnips to the list.
Title: Trouble with Parsnips
Author: Laurel Decher
Genre: fantasy/humour/modern fairytale
Page count: 268
TIBC Rating: * * * * *
Oh I do like that the first book I review gets the top rating!
Trouble with Parsnips opens at a christening party in the home of our nameless royal heroine. She has the nickname Fifteenth, as she is the fifteenth child of King Oliver and Queen Sibyl. Unfortunately, they have been so busy ruling the kingdom of Cochem (of which the Golden Parsnip is the symbol of state) and educating the older children, that she has been a decade without a name, hence the christening party.
As the story begins, Fifteenth is trying her hardest to ensure that everything goes as planned and she ends the day with a name and a suitable Fairy Godmother’s gift, as is appropriate for royal princesses on their christening day. This is not as simple a task as you may think. From the threat of Croquet Fever and missing guests to the very fact that without a name you are often forgotten, Fifteenth has a lot to handle. Luckily she is well equipped for the task, handy with a wrench and very quick thinking, she gets around most issues…that is until the arrival of the Blackflies and all the trouble they bring…
…her biggest test will come with the dreaded arrival of Croquet Fever, (not as harmless as you may think) when all her plans come tumbling down and the Golden Parsnip is no longer in Cochem hands…
This was an absolute delight to read. From the first chapter to the last, I was entertained by Fifteenth and the other characters. She is a modern-day heroine of the highest order: intelligent, handy, independent, feisty and kind, she leaps off the page as all the best main characters should. The cast around her too, are real while maintaining the ‘fairytale’ feel for the book. I particularly loved Bridget and her father who were genuinely good people. The villain of the piece (I won’t spoil who it is, though you will probably guess early on) is appropriately villainous and I enjoyed the scene where they trailed Fifteenth around the gathered guests as she did odd-jobs for each of them, ensuring they were shown appropriate hospitality.
The story flows wonderfully and there is a strong sense of connection to the main thread of the book throughout. We have all dealt with the feeling of being invisible and being afraid to speak up and I liked how this was explored and the way that it was resolved without being too ‘preachy’ or patronising. That overall is the feeling I take away from this, at no point did I feel to old to be reading it. The story resonated with me as an adult as much as I’m sure it will with children. The humourous nature of the book too, was not excessive: My enjoyment of it was drawn more from the absurdity of the situations than any ‘jokes’, a clever format in the vein of Terry Pratchett or Lemony Snicket, which I particularly enjoy.
If I were to make any criticism, it would be with the front cover, which, in my opinion, doesn’t particularly suit the book. It makes it look far more like a ‘princess story’ than it actually is, despite being full of royalty, kingdoms and tournaments. It is definitely a book that I feel as a story would appeal to both boys and girls, but some boys may be put off by the ‘girly’ front cover and miss out on a fantastic story.
Overall this is a brilliantly entertaining book which both boys and girls of 8/9+ will love. Fifteenth may feel forgotten by her family but her story is definitely one that I will remember and return to read again and again.
Thank you, Laurel for the opportunity to review this brilliant book!
You can find Laurel here: