by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
I found this book to be a perfect mix of princesses, magic, powerful women characters, and redemption.
"Ben" is third in line to the throne when her parents and the king are attacked by enemies. She is orphaned and left to learn all about being a queen from the regent queen, her aunt. Ben is upset and confused and rebellious. She has never been properly trained and the queen is afraid she will be unacceptable as heir.
The first few chapters were quite despairing and hardships kept hurting the princess, but I was VERY encouraged by the end. This is really a coming-of-age book and would easily be applied to any young girl who feels that her life is just not fair and that the world is conspiring against her. Thankfully the book reminds us that sometimes we just have to push through and conquer our problems.
Special note: The princess is often referred to as fat, and towards the end does slim down but is still not "skinny" or "slim". I was happy to see the way the author handled conquering a food addiction in a healthful manner, and realistically many girls these days are confronted with self-image problems at an early age.
Recommended for age 13 and up.