I adore Lindsey Leavitt's YA books. Sean Griswold's Head (my thoughts) is a wonderful story about family, friendship, and just a little bit of romance. Going Vintage has all the same elements plus, and is one of the best books I have read so far this year. (My review for this will post on Monday.) After finishing Going Vintage I decided that I should give Leavitt's fantasy trilogy for younger readers a try. They were so much fun to read.
Desi is a social outcast whose former best friend stole her crush. Added to that she has to spend her summer vacation dressed as a giant rodent for her job. Desi could use a little magic in her life. When she tells a fish at the pet store her troubles she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that Desi has magic and her fish conversation alerts the people who need to know this. Next thing Desi knows she is signing a contract to be a princess substitute, she applies a little magical make-up and transforms into the princess she will impersonate while the princess gets a vacation. Sound magnificent? Desi thinks so, but soon finds the job full of royal trouble.
This is how the first book Princess for Hire begins. The reader follows Desi on the hilarious journey through her princess sub test and through her three consecutive Level 1 assignments. Desi is a wonderful character: funny, smart, and full of grace under pressure. Her voice is very much 8th grade girl as are her confused thoughts regarding the people in her life and her crush on the popular boy. I really enjoyed how Desi's character grew and changed through this novel. She learns a lot from the princesses she impersonates about herself and what she wants.
The Royal Treatment follows Desi through her Level 2 princess assignments. She is more important now and more is required of her. On top of her job she is juggling with being in the school play and dealing with cute new boy Reed, her best friend's crush, who it turns out she has more in common with than she could imagine. Then there is the secret she finds out about Facade and where they get their princess transforming magic from. I didn't think this installment was quite as strong as the first, but it was still a lot of fun. Desi has several more crazy adventures and Reed is a wonderful addition to the cast of characters.
A Farewell to Charms finds Desi now a Level 3 sub and matched with a permanent princess. But Desi can not forget what she knows about her employer nor can she ignore the feeling that she must try to change what is wrong. Desi-with Reed's help-tries to uncover what is wrong and work to make it better. I liked Desi the rebel a lot and this story is a wonderful tale of a girl who stands up for what she knows is right even when it may cost her everything. I also love the portrayal of friendship between Desi and her best friend. And Reed continues to be awesome.
Tried and true fantasy fans may find themselves raising their eyebrows a bit at the world-building. I did. There are a lot of unanswered questions about how it all works. However, these books are so much good fun that I was able to let that go. I can imagine this making a really great Disney Channel series. AND THAT IS NOT A CRITICISM. There is a much needed place for books like this and I'm delighted to have found these. Bit is certainly enjoying them now that we have discovered them.