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Iron Hearted Violet

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,394 Ratings  ·  266 Reviews
In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn’t most fairy tales.

Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It t
Hardcover, 424 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2012)
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Alex Murphy I'd say this book is for fifth grade on up. With reading out loud to third grade on up.
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35th out of 47 books — 94 voters
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Middle Grade Novels of 2012
110th out of 297 books — 674 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jubilation Lee
Last weekend I had to drive across the state to a bachelorette party, and so I grabbed an audiobook copy of Iron Hearted Violet to keep me company in the car.

And, okay.

There were good things and bad things about this book.

I personally really disliked the narrator and his constant “Oh woe is me beloved though I truly am a masterful storyteller I can hardly stand to think about my actions” refrain, and wasn’t particularly moved by the ending, where (view spoiler), illuminate
Jan 09, 2013 TheBookSmugglers rated it it was ok
Ana’s Take:

The end of their world begins with a story – and with a birth. Princess Violet was born to supportive parents and a loving kingdom. She is smart, loves telling stories and enjoys adventures with her one friend Demetrius.

But, as it just so happens, Violet is not a True Fairytale Princess (TFP) because as we all know, TFP are impossibly beautiful and Violet is no such thing. With her mismatched eyes, lopsided face, blotchy skin and unruly hair, she is far from perfection. Still, nobody
Pranta Ghosh Dastider
May 31, 2016 Pranta Ghosh Dastider rated it it was amazing
Well, I won't be heartless and give Iron Heart Violet any star less. A full 5 it is.

Who am I to search for a flaw in such flawless storytelling? This story could go many places, but it kept being simple and to the point. It showed friendship, family bond, ruthless god, treachery, dragons, love, hope and many more. Written in a magical way this story became enhanced furthermore.

When all fairy tale stars with a beautiful princess, prosperous or in trouble kingdom and so on, this particular story
Aug 08, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, kidlit, own
How did I not know this book existed until a month ago? It's been out two years! It has a dragon and a little red haired girl on the cover! And it's wonderful! A fascinating and unusual fantasy, like a fairy tale, or a story by E. Nesbit, with strange and wonderful dragon lore. A must read for fans of dragons, magic, and adventure!
Arielle Walker
Jun 07, 2015 Arielle Walker rated it really liked it
3 stars for me
4 stars for the age group it's intended for...

Jun 25, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-releases
Sometimes, you just need something simple. Something somewhat predictable, charming and just downright classic. That's what I needed when it came Iron-Hearted Violet, and it fit the bill perfectly. Simple. Charming, and just adorable.

Violet isn't like most princesses -the storybook kind, that is. She isn't pretty. She isn't fragile. And she isn't anywhere near graceful. And in the stories that Violet enjoys telling so much, the princesses are always beautiful and the dragons are always evil. But
Oct 11, 2012 Andrea marked it as flipped-to-the-end
This story is told via the device of a court storyteller (one who keeps addressing the reader as "my dears"), and has a strong fairytale air, mixed with an epic fantasy plot. It is the tale of both Violet and Demetrius, as well as the storyteller.

Violet is an intelligent, lively, curious, mischievous princess, born to loving parents after many miscarriages, who happens to have very curly hair, uneven skin, an average sized body, mismatched eyes and a not precisely symmetrical face. She's not exa
Barb Middleton
Jan 14, 2013 Barb Middleton rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Pug nose, blotchy skin, mismatched eyes... meet the ugly princess. Now that's an interesting premise. Ignore the illustrations that make ugly Princess Violet look cute. Obviously, the artist didn't get the theme in this enjoyable fantasy. Violet has a strong personality, quick mind, and mouth. She's likable and strong-willed with a best friend, Demetrius, whom she explores the castle with on a daily basis. The castle is alive and has corridors that grow, shrink, and move making their adventures ...more
Jan 22, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2012
Fairy tales usually end with happily-ever-after's.

This one doesn't.

Beautifully deceptive and filled with dark intrigue, this is a story of power, wonder, and fear. Kelly Barnhill fills her pages with unique wisdom, charm, and most important: the power of belief. Iron Hearted Violet is a story that will stay with reader's as they traverse the pages and immerse themselves into a world unknow, a world unlike any other told in the rich span of fairy tales. It's deeply forbidden and dripping with
This book started out fine, and the premise of an unpretty princess who knows that all the princesses in stories ARE pretty was enough to keep me reading. And the more I read the more interesting and sad and wonderful the story got. But it didn't totally win me over until the ending. Violet won me over at the ending.

I think kids will enjoy the story and the adventure and the way fairytale elements get presented, but as an adult this book had an unexpected effect on me. Part of this story is abo
Kathy Martin
Jul 02, 2014 Kathy Martin rated it really liked it
Rich, textured language fills this tale of a girl, a boy, a dragon, and an old god imprisoned who now might have schemed his way to being free. Violet is a princess. But she is not the typical fairy tale princess with clear skin, long hair and gorgeous eyes. Violet is plain, has mis-matched eyes, unruly hair, and blotchy skin. She knows she isn't the perfect princess but she is also clever and stubborn.

He best friend is Demetrius. He is the son of the stablemaster and he becomes Violet's closest
Michelle E.

I was prepared to love this book. I ordered it a week after I discovered it here on GR. I counted the days until it arrived and quickly sunk my teeth into it. But alas, 'twas not meant to be.

IHV containes elements of Tad William's Shadowmarch series and the movie Dragonheart; but this book is not nearly as intriguing as either.

It resembles Shadowmarch in that there are also small human-like fae (for lack of a better word), and IHV has a god who lives deep
Anna (Yoda Is My Spirit Animal)
Violet is a beloved princess, the only living child of her parents and they live in a kingdom ruled by tales of the old gods who created their world. But she isn't the way a princess is supposed to be. Violet isn't pretty, graceful or cautious. Violet only has one real friend, Demetrius (the stablemaster's son) and she loves to tell stories about beautiful princesses and evil dragons. But when her Father goes on a quest to find the last living dragon (not to kill it, but to learn from it) and he ...more
Oct 25, 2012 Nafiza rated it really liked it
My attention was immediately captivated by the synopsis of the novel. I mean, how could I or anyone resist an outspoken and plain princess, her best friend and a mean dragon?

Iron Hearted Violet was a different book than I had imagined it would be. Oh it had all the elements I expected it to but it had something more, something that I hadn’t thought it would concern itself with. Substance. I thought it would be an adventure story that would leave me delighted, and it was, but there are heavier th
Nov 08, 2012 Aylee rated it really liked it
In short: If I were to describe Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill in one word, it would be Charming.

Middle Grade fantasies featuring strong and charismatic protagonists and creative world building are among my favourite kind of books to read and I had a feeling Iron Hearted Violet would give me exactly what I wanted - and it did. Kelly Barnhill has crafted an adventurous and unconventional story with a completely endearing protagonist. And what's more, there was SUBSTANCE here in the themes
Iron Hearted Violet is a middle grade fantasy novel that takes place in an imaginary multiverse. Only dragons can travel from one realm to the next by pressing against the thin skins of each realm until they pass through to the other side. Princess Violet lives in the Andulan Realm, which has a mirrored sky. It is believed that something lured the dragons to Andulan, and the dragons cannot escape because they are afraid of their own reflections. Violet’s father, King Randall, has been infatuated ...more
May 12, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, arc, middle-grade
This is one of those good ol' fantasy books, filled with princesses, dragons, and a fight to save the kingdom. Even better, there is absolutely no romance! Princess Violet is not beautiful, and she's surrounded by stories where all the princesses are beautiful. She has come ot believe that to be a real princess she must be beautiful, like her mother was. This is the first fantasy book I've read where the heroine isn't perfect and actually slips over to the dark side for a while. Though Violet is ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Cleo rated it liked it
Iron Hearted Violet is a recently published middle grade fantasy. It is the story of Violet, the intelligent but not-so-beautiful princess. When she is thirteen, her world begins crumbling. Nybbas, the thirteenth god, has risen again, and is bent on the destruction of everything that Violet loves. She and her best friend Demetrius, and a scarred dragon who's afraid of his own reflection, may be their only hope of saving their kingdom and their world.

Interestingly, the book is narrated in the fir
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile

A decent little adventure story which explores, a bit, the power of stories to shape people's perspectives - both for the good and ill.

The titular Violet is an ugly princess who, early in the story, is told that "real princesses" have to be beautiful. At least in stories. But when things start going wrong, she starts thinking that maybe it's because she's not a "real princess".

Overall the story reminded me a bit of the Care Bears movie - the part where (view spoiler)
Dec 08, 2012 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Alice Ann
This was rather a surprise. A spur-of-the-moment checkout at the library based mostly on the cover (which is a very silly way to pick books, as a rule, since a lot of really insipid books have really pretty covers). However, this one was surprisingly, wonderfully deep, thoughtful, and poetic.

The titular Violet is the last princess of her realm. She doesn't look like a princess "should" look, at least according to the stories told by Cassian, the story's narrator. She's got crazy hair, lopsided e
Apr 02, 2013 Kristen rated it really liked it

I have been longing to read this book, so when I saw it at the library, I snatched it up and checked it out. I have a bad habit of returning library books unread, but luckily the Fairytale Readathon happened in March and I dug right into this one. The narrator of this book is the castle storyteller, who spends a lot of time with Princess Violet, a somewhat ugly child who clings to the idea that in stories all princesses are beautiful. And it's that idea that has her torn in the book between what

So I had some pretty high hopes for this one, most of which were dashed on the rocks of indifferent-ism. It just looked so cool.....

I was expecting something from the dragon, who turned out to be a one-dimensional side character.

Violet was two-dimensional. More there and yet....really not. She actually sorta annoyed me just a little bit.

Demetrius (awesome name) was just like every single other boy-side-character-that-is-best-friends-with-a-nontraditional-princess.

The Nybbas. As a villain, not
Nov 26, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
While this was, for my tastes, too long by half, I enjoyed it a lot. Especially, I liked the considerations of beauty and plainness--though the very pretty girl shown in the pictures irritated me. (It's one thing that she doesn't look like a classic fairy tale princess; we see that girl in the appropriate illustrations later; but would it have been so hard for the illustrator to at least show uneven eyes in the real princess's face?) I liked the multiverse concept, and the setting, and kept bein ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Loretta rated it really liked it
I really loved this story into about the last quarter. It sings like poetry, like a tale told around firelight, a tale of beginnings and endings and more beginnings. And then it just lost some of that sheen.

Let's start with the obvious problem. Clearly the author did not get any input into the illustrations (I hope), and the illustrator didn't really 'get' the book. We hear over and over again the Violet is ugly. So it was really incongruous to come upon an illustrated page and think "really, I
Aug 27, 2014 Phoebe rated it liked it
Barnhill is the author of The Mostly True Story of Jack, which impressed with its depth and detail. She falls a little short in this tale of a princess whose ordinary, even homely looks make her a little self-conscious, since of course, princesses are supposed to be beautiful. But Violet is precious because her parents waited so long for her and could not have more children. She is wild and adventuresome and her favorite occupation is to listen to the stories told by the court storyteller, Cassi ...more
Taking the Waters
Sep 17, 2014 Taking the Waters rated it it was amazing
Iron Hearted Violet is one of the more lyrical MG books I’ve ever read. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the author is a poet, although I don’t believe that lyrical writing can only come from poets or that all poets are lyrical. Barnhill whisks you away into this world with sentences that flow together, kind of like you’re floating down a lazy river at a waterpark. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the story and not notice the sun setting and that your eyes are straining to read th ...more
Mar 09, 2015 Anna rated it liked it
Has good points and not-so-good points. An immersive world with a good fairy-tale vibe following the story of a princess whose life is great except that she is not pretty (not "like a *real* princess", meaning like the ones in all the stories), and how she and her best friend make a discovery while exploring the castle that sets off a chain of events that could destroy her kingdom if they can't stop it.

Strong pro: the portrayal of women having positions of power in every imaginable capacity, tre
Stephanie Jewett
Middle-grade fantasy about a princess who saves her kingdom. The difference here is that she is not a pretty princess- a fact that she is all too aware of, and while she normally can get past it because she knows she is loved by her parents and her people, it must be pretty discouraging to have every story star a beautiful princess and then look in the mirror and see a plain face, and different-sized eyes, and tufty hair, etc etc. Fortunately, Violet has an iron heart and after a few missteps, d ...more
Amanda Harris
Apr 02, 2014 Amanda Harris rated it liked it
Violet, the not-so-pretty princess, is soaring through the air on top of a dragon with an arrow in her chest. They are on a mission to break the mirrored edge of the world before the Nybbas regains its heart. What's a Nybbas? Do they accomplish what they had set out to do? You'll need to read it for yourself!

This book was pretty good. I felt like it was kind of draggy until it reached the end. There was definitely a build up to the climax and I feel like I wasn't that disappointed. The pacing wa
Miss Sophie
This was a good, solid middlegrade book. It follows Violet who is a rather plain princess in a country set in a world with a mirrored sky. Stories are very important there, as is the art of story telling. But there is one story that is forbidden and it is about the Nybbas, and Violet, curious and reckless, wants to find out more about it.
The narrator of the book is Cassius, the castle's story teller, so parts of it are from first point of view but in a lot of places it reads like an omnicient n
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I'm a writer, a mom, a wife, a dog owner, a reader, a thinker, a hiker, a friend, a runner, a teacher, a listener, terrible gardener, a lover of nature. Sometimes I'm all of these things at once.

I'm also a former bartender, former park ranger, former waitress, former church janitor, former kosher meat slicer, former wild-eyed activist, former wildland firefighter, former coffee jerk, former phon
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