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Princess Ben

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  13,153 ratings  ·  1,139 reviews
"My gown suited me as well as I could ever hope, though I could not but envy the young ladies who would attract the honest compliments of the night. My bodice did not plunge as dramatically as some, and no man--no man I would ever want to meet, surely--could fit his hands round my waist. What I lacked in beauty I would simply have to earn with charm..."

Benevolence is not

Hardcover, 344 pages
Published March 18th 2008 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Tabitha That's just the sleeves of her dress. That style has a lot of layers so it makes her look larger than she is.

Don't judge a book by it's cover. ;)
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39th out of 524 books — 930 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Monica Edinger
Started to write this here and realized it was developed enough to be worth posting on my blog. So here is my post:

I’ve read, loved, studied, and taught fairy tales all my life. Every three years I co-teach a graduate school fairy tale course and, since 1990, I’ve been doing a Cinderella unit with my fourth graders. So I’m always interested in new versions of these old tales as well as original ones. At the same time, because many of these come up short for me, I am a wary reader of them, especi
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 27, 2013 Cara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fairytale lovers
Recommended to Cara by: Valerie
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tales
I have got to say this keep me up at night. Literally. The urge to read the last word was so great I forced my eyes to pry open. At first it was slow going, but that was understandable. We needed the whole background. I had mixed feelings going in because I had already gobbled and enjoyed reading Dairy Queen and The Off Season by the same author. This series has one of the best protagonist I've seen in young adult books, so my expectations were almost unreachable but I was pleased to find that I ...more
I’d been wanting to read this book ever since I saw it on the shelf, because every time I looked at it I thought of my bearded, solemn co-worker named Ben and laughed and laaaauuuuuughed, and this is probably not the best reason to want to read a book but what can you do?

And as a “not your typical fairy tale” fairy tale, it was okay. Not fantastical, but not jaw-droppingly horrendous, either.

Princess Benevolence suffered a tad in my opinion from being one of the whiniest creatures ever to grace
I wish I could give half stars because this book deserves four and a half. As the inside jacket says, this isn't your ordinary fairy tale. Princess Ben (short for Benevolence), is a whiny, overweight, spirited girl who recently mourns the loss of her parents. Her country is threatened by a neighboring kingdom, who claim no part in the murdering of the king and Ben's parents. Orphaned, Ben is put under her strict aunt's wings, Queen Sophie. Completely miserable, locked up and starved until she ca ...more
Brooke Shirts
I remember something Diana Wynne Jones wrote that went something along the lines of this:

"In Fantasyland, a princess is either a

1. Wimp, or
2. Rebellious spunky swordswoman with a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her tip-tilted nose."

Needless to say, the rebellious-princess character has become something of a cliché. So it's quite refreshing when an author takes this setup (of an "ordinary princess" rejecting the frou-frou court, then escaping and having grand adventures) and can make
I found the heroine extremely childish and intolerable in the first 3 parts, but I suspect Murdock deliberately made her that way. However, I do not think Murdock meant her to be so unlikeable that readers would not be able to stomach her. I did not truly like Ben until the last part when she finally grows up and recognizes the purpose behind the "princess" lessons, her responsibilities as the sole heir to the kingdom. When she got over herself, acted less spoiled, and actually got some spunk. P ...more
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. First let me say that I'm not a fan of these realistic book covers, which seem to be all the rage recently. I much prefer the more artistic covers that allow me to imagine what the main character etc. look like. I'm also usually a little skeptical of fairy tale retellings because it seems that they can so easily go awry.

This one, however, did not. Yay! Murdock takes all the most familiar parts of the princess fairytales (the tower, the sleep-enchanted pri
This was really disappointing - I'm a huge fan of her Dairy Queen trilogy, so I was expecting to enjoy this. Unfortunately it has tons of enormous gaping plotholes, impossible characters, and a bad habit of showing something entirely different to what it tells. And the thing is - this was her third novel published (and, as far as I can tell, written), so she'd already done vastly superior work.

(view spoiler)
After reading Dairy Queen and The Off Season by this same author I really had no idea what to expect in this book. The transition to fantasy seemed easy. I still enjoyed this book after the second time I read it. I like Ben and enjoyed seeing her grow from a self-pitying but soft-hearted girl to a determined ruler.

I've always liked fairy-tales and if anything this book has made me like them even more. Ben is a dynamic protagonist. She was not raised as a real princess so she is more relatable. A
I thought this book was rather charming and unique. I enjoyed Ben’s character, and reading about her many adventures. I thought she was easy to relate to because she wasn’t perfect, and things didn’t always turn out the way she wanted. It was fun to follow her progress throughout the book, as she turns from a somewhat spoiled girl to a Queen. I liked the concept of Prince Florian, but thought his character was underdeveloped. He didn’t really appear until about 200 pages and even then they barel ...more
I really liked this book. Until the end, but I'll get to that later. I love novelizations of fairy tales, and this was a good one with a bit of a twist. It was part Sleeping Beauty, part Cinderella, with some Jack and the Bean Stalk thrown in for fun. I liked the old fashioned verbage and was glad I was reading on my Kindle which made looking up words a breeze (there were quite a few).
Princess Ben starts out a bit spoiled, but I like how her character develops through the story, and I think the
May 12, 2014 Wickedshizuku rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Young women, Feminists, Adventure lovers, Gail Carson Levine fans, Tamora Pierce fans
Recommended to Wickedshizuku by: Fort Stewart Librarian
There was one quote that made this one on my favorites shelf, because lo and behold I look up and see this on the news after reading it.

 photo bush-shoe-throw-033_zpsbc774e13.gif

“With that, I hurled the slipper at him, not caring if I caused his decapitation. (I did not.) Marshaling what little dignity I yet possessed, I stomped down the corridor - challenging indeed with one shoe - and around the corner. I lay awake for hours. The prince had no right, not one, to indict me so, and if I had held the slightest hope of the book's assista
I really wish I could give this less than one star. This is probably the worst book I have ever read. I seriously don't think I can even review this properly because I am so dumbfounded by the stupidity of this book. It's written as if the Princess herself is writing her own memoir, and she keeps breaking in saying things like, "If I haven't yet addressed the matter of..." in order to explain certain parts of the world she has poorly built. Also, she repeatedly says, "I thought my situation coul ...more
Benevolence is the beloved only child of the royal family. When the king (her uncle) and the princess (her mother) are killed, Ben's life takes a terrible turn. No longer is she allowed the cozy, unpretentious, rough-and-tumble childhood she so enjoyed. Instead she must live in the palace with her aunt, the queen regent, who is so controlled and controlling that it nearly drives Ben mad. Her only solace is learning magic on the sly. After a disastrous ball, Ben embarks on an adventure by turns h ...more
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
This book both feels that it's for older readers -- some of the language is purposefully archaic or less familiar -- and very young -- the emotional twists and turns and the adversaries that Ben has to face are not earth-shattering, to say the least. It's a weird combination of very simple Tamora Pierce and Pride and Prejudice. The middle section of the story is fun and the last part is quite exciting but the set-up (80 odd pages of Part I) is a bit long and too leisure a pace, I feel. Definite ...more
Joan{missing the vampire bunny slippers!}
First of all I didn't finish this book.
Reading the blurb I thought it might be interesting, but the writing was too hard to follow and the whole diary thing got a bit tiring too.
The idea was there, the problem was with the execution.
It just didn't click for me and that's too bad.
Meh. Pretty standard medieval world fairy-tale-ish fantasy. Really had difficulty liking "Ben" or believing in the predictable relationship. Also found prissy, pseudo-formal voice really irritating.
Princess Ben short for Benevolence is orphaned after the assassinations of her uncle, the reining king, and her mother, her father’s body is not found. As the last remaining member of royal blood, Ben is forced to move into the castle and endure her aunt, Queen Sophia. Sophia insists that Ben act like the princess she should and insists that Ben learn to dance, sew, proper penmanship, and control her appetite. She later learns these "lessons" are to make her appealing to a suitor, so that the qu ...more
I was really disappointed in this book. The premise is great. I was excited at the prospect of a protagonist who, while a princess, is not skinny and beautiful.

I was expecting something that would go against the "only the beautiful people get the guy" mindset so common in our society; however, the book did the absolute opposite, and it was only once she changed (lost weight, became more beautiful and ladylike and submissive, etc) that she was able to get the guy, earn respect, and save the day.
I'm all for fairy tale romances and such, but Princess Ben falls short in so many ways. Murdock seems like she is attempting to write a unconventional heroine in the beginning of her novel, but Ben herself develops into such a bland character. Then again, she wasn't exactly a marvelously crafted character to begin with--she doesn't like to do anything but eat. She's got some serious eating disorder and eats her feelings, spends her time feeling sorry for herself (and later, practicing magic that ...more
Rachel Partington
I rated this book 3 stars based on how catchy and exciting it was to me. I rated it a 3 because even though it is really easy to read, it wasn't really interesting until the end. There were parts in the book that I just wanted to quite the book because it was so boring. This book didn't have anything going on, until the climax of the story happened. I didn't give it a 4 or a 5 because I think the beginning could have been a lot more exciting The end of the book was far better than the beginning. ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Excellent. A very cute little fantasy story, reminded me of the stuff I used to read when I was, like, ten. *sigh, nostalgia* Princess Ben is an unusual but strangely likable character, who makes a good narrator of the story. The writing style = very good. It had the same clever, fairy-tale charm as books such as Ella Enchanted or Once Upon a Marigold. The pace was mostly good, except I found the ending rather rushed and a little confusing. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Meh. I thought the premise was great--I love a wronged-heir-to-the-throne tale as much as the next person. However, there were a few things lacking here.

First, the faux fancy speech was a drawback. The author really liked high-falutin' vocabulary, and never used an everyday phrase when a $5 word would do. For example, we have "He alone could save me from a fate verily worse than death into which I was about to be so indifferently plunged." Sentence structure is complex and sometimes difficult:
Feb 28, 2015 Kat rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 5-star
This book was beautifully written! I loved how it was from Ben's point of view like she was writing up her life story or like we were taking a peep into her diary.
It was also cool how, like a diary, she made small remarks in brackets. It was written in a more conversational manner than anything else.
I also liked how well everything fitted together. The story worked like clockwork. I couldn't find fault in it, but yet it wasn't predicable. To tell to truth I was wracking my brains about what they
A princess locked in the tower who discovers magic? Sign me up! I was looking forward to start listening to this book. I wanted a fairy tale type of story that would be enjoyable. Unfortunately, this book was a disappointment.

The concept of the story was promising but the execution was poorly done. Benevolence, aka Ben, lost her parents and was then locked up in a tower. She soon discovered a secret room where she learned to control magic. Afterward, she ran away trying to avoid an arranged marr
Dec 28, 2008 Colleen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: YA girls
Recommended to Colleen by: matched it to preferences
Last night I started and finished Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. This was definitely a different twist on a few old stories. Princess Ben is the niece of the king, who has no other heirs. When the King, his brother (Ben's father) and Ben's mother are killed while on a pilgrimage, Ben is taken over as Queen Sofia's pet project.

The story is told as an autobiography from a mature, adult-Ben perspective. Because of this, the narration voice is able to provide some analysis of Ben's acti
Princess Ben is not your typical princess. First of all, her name isn’t pretty and feminine – it’s Ben, short for Benevolence. Secondly, she is chubby and graceless. And her life is far from perfect, especially after her parents and her uncle, the king, die on the same day. It is assumed that they were killed by the neighboring Drachensbetts, long the enemy of Ben’s people. Ben goes to live with her widowed aunt, Sophia, who is now serving as the Queen until Ben is old enough to assume the thron ...more
Fantasies/fairytales are not usually my genre but, first of all, because we have so many in our library that don't get read, I decided that I needed to branch out because the only way these types of books are going to get checked out is if I sell them. Secondly, the preponderance of books that get starred reviews in "School Library Journal" and "Booklist," and a score of nine or ten of ten in "VOYA" are books of this genre. As this book received many high marks, I felt this was a good place to s ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 06, 2015 07:03AM  
Story Game 144 40 Dec 15, 2013 11:59AM  
  • The Amaranth Enchantment
  • The Princess and the Bear (The Hound Saga, #2)
  • Princess of Glass (Princess #2)
  • A Posse of Princesses
  • The Runaway Princess (Runaway Princess, #1)
  • The Swan Maiden
  • Violet Eyes (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
  • The Thirteenth Princess
  • The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
  • The Swan Kingdom
  • Bella at Midnight
  • Ice
  • A Curse Dark as Gold
  • Forest Born (The Books of Bayern, #4)
  • Goose Chase
  • No Place for Magic (The Tales of the Frog Princess, #4)
  • Fortune's Folly
I grew up in small-town Connecticut, on a tiny farm with honeybees, two adventurous goats, and a mess of Christmas trees. My sister claims we didn’t have a television, but we did, sometimes – only it was ancient, received exactly two channels, and had to be turned off after 45 minutes to cool down or else the screen would go all fuzzy. Watching (or rather, “watching”) Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds ...more
More about Catherine Gilbert Murdock...
Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen, #1) The Off Season (Dairy Queen, #2) Front and Center (Dairy Queen, #3) Wisdom's Kiss Heaven Is Paved with Oreos (Dairy Queen, #4)

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“Every fairy tale, it seems, concludes with the bland phrase "happily ever after." Yet every couple I have ever known would agree that nothing about marriage is forever happy. There are moments of bliss, to be sure, and lengthy spans of satisfied companionship. Yet these come at no small effort, and the girl who reads such fiction dreaming her troubles will end ere she departs the altar is well advised to seek at once a rational women to set her straight.” 100 likes
“With that, I hurled the slipper at him, not caring if I caused his decapitation. (I did not.) Marshaling what little dignity I yet possessed, I stomped down the corridor - challenging indeed with one shoe - and around the corner. I lay awake for hours. The prince had no right, not one, to indict me so, and if I had held the slightest hope of the book's assistance, I would have climbed at once to my wizard room for a spell with which to punish him. Death, perhaps, or humiliation. A croaking frog would be nice, particularly a frog that retained Florian's dark eyes. I should keep it in a box and poke it occasionally with a stick; that would be satisfying indeed.” 63 likes
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