The Princesses of Barmarre

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Author: Gail Carson Levine

Publisher: Collins

Published in: 2002

Age Range: Pre Teens+

Period: Indeterminate

Setting: The mythical land of Barmarre

Genres:  Fantasy


  • Princess Meryl is resourceful and brave and protects her sister
  • Princess Addie is timid and prefers needlework and hates spiders
  • Rhys is the court's apprentice sorceror who has a soft spot for Addie and tries to help her.


Princesses Meryl and Addie live in the land of Barmarre, which is constantly attacked by Gryphons, Ogres, Spectres and Dragons, and where the plague of the Grey Death kills indiscriminately; Meryl is brave and Addie timid, until Meryl contracts the Grey Death, and Addie sets out to look for a cure.

Addie is given several gifts to help her, which she must learn to use to their best advantage, but her only hope is to force one of the magical creatures which attack the country to reveal the cure for the Grey Death.


Literary Quality: A very slightly modern telling of a traditional fairy-tale form. The story is told from the point of view of Addie, the timid sister who must find her own strength when her sister is unable to protect her.

Magic: Traditional fairy-tale stuff: seven-league boots, an enchanted tablecloth, a cloak of shadow; plus slight variations: an apprentice sorceror, spectres who take on the form of another to lure you into danger, and finally beneficent and powerful fairies.

Loyalty & Friendship: Addie & Myrle's sisterly love results in their protecting each other to the death if needs be, while Rhys does his best to help Addie, whom he eventually wishes to marry.

We hugged and didn't speak for a few minutes.

Finally she whispered bitterly, “Sir Grey Death robbed me of my adventure and gave it to you.”

I hugged her harder. “He has a lot to answer for.”

She said, sounding more like herself, “We'll make him regret it.” She pulled out of my arms and looked at me. “You'll have a better chance than Father. You'll put your whole self i nto it, and that will help you.” She thought for a minute, and then her face lit up. “You can take Blood- biter. It will help you too.” She shrugged. “At least I threatened your spectre with it. I used it that much

Friday 8th August 2003