Iron Hearted Violet
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Iron Hearted Violet

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  607 ratings  ·  165 reviews
The end of their world begins with a story.
This one.

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 r...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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October 2012 YA & MG Releases
35th out of 47 books — 92 voters
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Middle Grade Novels of 2012
131st out of 344 books — 578 voters

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Community Reviews

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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...more
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...more
Barb Middleton
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
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...more
Michelle E. Kobus

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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±

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)...more
Dec 08, 2012 Pamela rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
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...more

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...more

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...more
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
Very fun fairy tale. I enjoyed it immensely.
Kathy Martin
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...more
Amanda Harris
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...more
Roselyn - bookmarkedpages
I find that a lot of books take themselves too seriously. They try to follow all the conventions and include all the right elements. But they lose something, something critical. Something that should be the number one priority of every book – to tell a story. I don’t want a collection of perfectly placed words and emotions. I want to be told a tale. To lose myself in a fantastical land narrated by a powerful voice. I didn’t realize how much I craved this until I read Iron Hearted Violet.

Iron Hea...more
Ashley Kempkes
Actual Rating: 2.5
While I did like this book, it took me longer than it should have. I picked up this book thinking it would be a quick read, and I think it still be for most people, even though it wasn't for me.
Dec 22, 2012 AliceAnn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anne, Diane
Recommended to AliceAnn by: Pamela
Thank you Pamela for recommending this utterly amazing book to me. *beams* I'm currently trying not to look too closely into any mirrors...just in case!
Debbie Tanner
This showed up on a list of books about strong girls and boy, were they right. This is a fairy tale about a princess named Violet, who is not beautiful and believes then, that she can not be a real princess. She and her best friend, Demetrius, spend a lot of time exploring the castle and find that there are stories that have been hidden for thousands of years. The stories, however, endanger them all. This story has awesome themes of bravery, love, respect, and what it really means to be a prince...more
It's been a long time since I've read a fantasy novel as creative as "Iron-Hearted Violet." The author does a great job of world- and character-building, from smaller characters to the MCs. The emphasis on stories, and how stories can spin their own truths that end up affecting the real world, is very strong. I enjoyed all the main characters, although I found the narrator somewhat irritating at times, and the villain was definitely menacing. The author also feeds you various tidbits from the va...more
Melissa Frye
Everyone should go on an adventure, even if it’s only through the pages of a book. Kelly Barnhill has written a wonderful adventure and it is well worth taking.
Blurb taken from Goodreads:

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 upo
I thought this book was going to be one sort of book when I started reading it, yet the story kept evolving as I read in interesting directions. In the end, I loved it not only for its story--which is solid--but perhaps even more for its strong-yet-subtle integration of women in the fantasy setting. Here, women are not only queens, princesses, and fairies, but also captains and falconers and several unnamed generals. The casual insertion of women into multiple non-traditional settings, without f...more
I don't usually read fantasy, but when I saw this audiobook was narrated by Simon Vance, I decided to have a listen. And oh! What a narration! I now understand why he is so popular among audiobook listeners.

Author Kelly Barnhill knows how to spin a good story, beautifully written with wonderful imagery. This is the story of Violet, a plain odd-looking tween princess who is bright and reckless and who, along with her best friend Demetrius, makes the discovery of an evil being that is imprisoned i...more
As posted on Outside of a Dog:

I have to be picky about what I read, because my time, limited as it is, is precious. Every year there are books that I love, books that I like, and books that simply miss me (although these are not plentiful). But rarely does a book come along about which I have such complicated feelings as Kelly Barnhill’s Iron Hearted Violet.

Violet is not your typical princess (although her kind is being seen more and more). She’s got wild, unruly hair, uneven eyes (which are dif...more
Ms. Yingling
I saw this reviewed on Barbara Watson's blog, as well as at Charlotte's Library. Because I am a frequent sufferer from Fantasy Amnesia, which seems to be triggered by maps at the beginnings of books, I was a little leery. My predecessor bought primarily medieval-type fantasies, so my library is well stocked, but I do need a few fresh things for my readers who devour Pierce's Alanna.

Oh, I even took notes. Violet is a precocious but not terribly attractive princess. She has a good friend, Demetriu...more
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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...more
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“There's no such thing as complete when it comes to stories. Stories are infinite. They are as infinite as worlds.” 35 likes
“Love transforms our fragile, cowardly hearts into hearts of stone, hearts of blade, hearts of hardest iron. Because love makes heroes of us all.” 6 likes
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