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Iron Hearted Violet

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,161 Ratings  ·  357 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 I'd say this book is for fifth grade on up. With reading out loud to third grade on up.

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Miranda Reads
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's no such thing as complete when it comes to stories. Stories are infinite. They are as infinite as worlds.
When the whole world is trying to hide something, what would you do to discover what that is?

Demetris and Violet are two peas in a pod - only she's the princess of the castle and he's a peasant son - but that never mattered to them.

They are too busy having adventures, raising a ruckus and exploring the unfathomable castle.

And one such adventure will set them on a pathway neither
Hannah Greendale
Princess Violet and her best friend, Demetrius, discover a hidden room in the castle. Inside the room is a strange book that tells of a wicked creature – the Nybbas – who was imprisoned in their world. Violet has no reason to believe the story is true, until she starts hearing a voice in her head telling her to release the Nybbas.

Iron Hearted Violet touts the power of storytelling. In Princess Violet’s world, telling and believing in stories is a way of life.

Violet’s story, fittingly, is conve
Dec 07, 2012 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
3.5 stars. Lacking some of the charm of Barnhill's more recent "The Girl who Drank the Moon", this story took longer to engage me but I did find about a third of the way in I did want to know how things would turn out for Violet.
Interesting points raised by Kelly Barnhill about the damage stories prioritizing beauty of the girl/princess over sense and intelligence, cause incredible harm to Violet and countless others in her land. Violet does grow terrifically over the course of this story, and
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, fantasy, kidlit
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!
Pranta Ghosh Dastider
May 18, 2016 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
Arielle Walker
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
3 stars for me
4 stars for the age group it's intended for...

Kells Next Read
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book, ebook
Enjoyable read overal, but I did find that the story fell flat in multiple places.

Actual Ratings: 2.75
Barb Middleton
Dec 12, 2012 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
Sep 22, 2012 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
Dec 07, 2012 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
Jun 24, 2012 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
C.J. Milbrandt
Violet is a princess with a storytelling mentor, a best friend (far below her station), and a wondrous castle to explore. But there are secrets that shouldn't have been uncovered ... and terrible consequences when she listens to the whispers coming from the castle mirrors.

Creation lore and multiple worlds. True stories and twisting lies. Captive dragons and captivating stories. Fears and ensnare and grief that snatches away large portions of happiness. I liked this story better than The Girl Wh
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I think the problem was that I read these books in the wrong order. I enjoyed The Girl Who Drank The Moon so much - and then the Witch's Boy was honestly pretty forgettable. This one - there was so much potential, but it was never really fully realised until TGWDTM.
✩ Ashley ✩
Oct 07, 2018 marked it as to-read
OMG Simon Vance is the audiobook narrator?!?!?!?! Ahhhhhhh okay I can’t wait to listen #voicecrush 🎧🎶
Jul 31, 2012 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
Michelle (Crazy Cat Lady)

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 (Curiosity comes before Kay) Partrick
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
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
2.75 stars


Violet isn't a stereotypical beautiful princess and her story isn't a typical one either. Throw in a banished god, a decrepit dragon, and a warring nation, and you've got an odd fairy-tale.

Listened to this on audiobook and the reader (while doing the voice of the storyteller narrator) put me in mind of Rumpelstiltskin / Mr. Gold from the television show Once Upon a Time. This had a two-fold effect, that it made me go "oooo" while at the same time it lulled me, which really isn't a go
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
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs, kids
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A few things...this is not a traditional fairy tale, does not have a traditional princess, and does not have a happily ever after ending. Sweet, bring it on, right? Wrong. All of these things are premises that this story stands on, however the actual story doesn't live up to the premise.

I found the characters annoying, whiny, and selfish. The grass is greener on the other side could have been the subtitle to this book. All the typical stereotypes of fairy tales were used as downfalls, but it was
Jim Sibigtroth
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
An unusual novel-length fairy tale. To begin with, the princess Violet is not a typical princess. She is not at all pretty and she feels unsure of herself because of this. She is also quite clever and she really does pay attention to what is going on around the castle.

Next, the narrator is a rather wimpy storyteller who thinks he is more brave and clever than he really is. Stories and storytelling play a significant part in the book.

There is a dragon, but he is very old and somewhat crippled. He
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
My first thought: This book was written in 2012, by a woman, and red hair & freckles are still markers for ugliness. As someone who has red hair & freckles, may I kindly say, it's f***ing time to give it a rest!

"It was ok" sums this YA book up. I wouldn't recommend it, but I'm not going to prevent my kids from reading it, either. I'm always on the lookout for great books that feature strong female characters. This wasn't one. Violet, the princess, wasn't the typical damsel in distress, b
HP Fan
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book! It is so well written and has AMAZING characters. Would recommend to everyone!!
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, hbg, own-copy, genre-sf-f
This is exactly the kind of book I would have been obsessed with as a kid. A dragon, an ugly princess, and the power of storytelling make for a great combination. The narrator was incredibly frustrating, especially as the book progressed, but overall it was pretty great.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the way this is written. It’s got a lot of imagery in the words and has a new take on the princess genre. I liked that there wasn’t a forced romance element and that the pre-teens have the power and strength of childhood while also having the confusion of growing up.
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Into the Forest: Iron Hearted Violet - Spoilers 7 17 Feb 12, 2014 04:15PM  
Into the Forest: Iron Hearted Violet - No Spoilers 6 23 Feb 06, 2014 04:59PM  
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Kelly Barnhill is an author and teacher. She won the World Fantasy Award for her novella The Unlicensed Magician, a Parents Choice Gold Award for Iron Hearted Violet, the Charlotte Huck Honor for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. She was also a McKnight Artist's Fellowship recipient in Children ...more
“There's no such thing as complete when it comes to stories. Stories are infinite. They are as infinite as worlds.” 59 likes
“Stories have a tendency to seep across the shining membrane walls separating the universes. They whisper and flutter like the feathers of birds, from island to mainland and back again. They fall into dreams like rain.” 25 likes
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