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Iron Hearted Violet

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,837 ratings  ·  450 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
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George It's not marked as such. And it makes an entirely satisfactory stand-alone.…moreIt's not marked as such. And it makes an entirely satisfactory stand-alone.(less)
Alex I'd say this book is for fifth grade on up. With reading out loud to third grade on up. …moreI'd say this book is for fifth grade on up. With reading out loud to third grade on up. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,837 ratings  ·  450 reviews

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Miranda Reads
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 nei
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
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! ...more
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: ebook, audio-book
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
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
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
It took me a month and a half to get through Iron Hearted Violet, not because it's a bad book, but because it's not the right sort of book for me. I'd recommend this fantasy to readers who enjoy a high concept and unique storytelling. The characterization was on the weaker side, however, so I never fully invested, despite admiring the world building and writing.

One other note: it bothered me that the illustrations (which are lovely) depict Violet, who is described as ugly or, at best, plain, as
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was lovely, so I've rounded up 3.5 stars, even though it became very... proclamation-y, towards the end, and I found that a bit jarring. The actual ending was also an odd choice, but I think it worked. On the dark side for the age range it's aimed at (lots of death) but still, admirable depictions of parenting, friendships, responsibilities. And there's a dragon, so 👍🏻 ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this with my 10 year old daughter. It was a fun, unexpected princess and dragon story.
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
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
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
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
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is what I would like to call a bait and switch. The book jacket promises me a friendship between Princess Violet and Demetrius, and it also promises me a dragon. There are a few chapters in the beginning that show their friendship, but for most of the book the two main characters aren’t speaking. Furthermore, dragon has no significant involvement for at least 330 pages. In fact, we should say that very little happens for

Other items promised on the book jacket:
Iron Hearted Violet is
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 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not as special as Barnhill's "The Girl Who Drank The Moon," but very little is. A sometimes sweet, sometimes scary novel about the magic of stories, decency, and appreciating what really matters about other people and particularly ourselves. An unsubtle extended metaphor for the artificial, impossible and cruel beauty standards girls are held to. ...more
Crystal Pistal
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Read this to my kids. It was kind of long so it took us a while but we love Kelly Barnhill and the way she unrolls a story! There is always a nice lesson at the end and the kids were happy with it all ♥
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. ...more
Colona Public Library
Reads like a fairy tale and is nicely layered like The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I feel like this ended a bit abruptly but I enjoyed reading this. Also the narrator to the audiobook did a fine job!

Rachel Joy
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A fun fairy tale with unusual, non-traditional heroes.
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 wi
Michelle Kobus
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was ok

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
Feb 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: discarded, fantasy

Unlikeable characters and weird storytelling. Not interested.

Honestly though, this book was so dull that not only could I not remember the title, I couldn't even remember Violet's name. I legit had to google "dragons" and "Demetrius" to figure out wtf the book was called so that I could leave a review even though I only returned it to the library last week.
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, but she w
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This one didn't really catch my attention, which I'm sad about because I loved Kelly's other book The Witch's Boy. I also listened to it on audiobook, so it may have been that I kept getting distracted.
It just kind of didn't sit well with me that the main character Violet was called ugly throughout the whole book and got turned into what she thought was a "perfect princess" with long flowing hair and small feet and perfect skin.
I felt like there were tons of things going on and I couldn't keep t
Deanna O'Keefe
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as compelling as girl who drank the moon but still has all the charm of Barnhills storytelling style and a unique story.
I do wish the illustrations, though they are lovely and I adore them, at all showed the princess as she is described, given that her appearance("mismatched eyes, pug nose, plain of face, ugly") is a major story point and is repeated.
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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

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