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Frogkisser!

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The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

372 pages, Hardcover

First published February 28, 2017

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About the author

Garth Nix

213 books13.3k followers
Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing 'Hail the Conquering Hero Comes' or possibly 'Roll Out the Barrel'. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a boot full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.

Despite a wheel literally falling off the Austin, Garth survived to return to Australia and study at the University of Canberra. After finishing his degree in 1986 he worked in a bookshop, then as a book publicist, a publisher's sales representative, and editor. Along the way he was also a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, serving in an Assault Pioneer platoon for four years. Garth left publishing to work as a public relations and marketing consultant from 1994-1997, till he became a full-time writer in 1998. He did that for a year before joining Curtis Brown Australia as a part-time literary agent in 1999. In January 2002 Garth went back to dedicated writer again, despite his belief that full-time writing explains the strange behaviour of many authors.

He now lives in Sydney with his wife, two sons and lots of books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,222 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,878 reviews22.6k followers
July 7, 2018
3.5 stars for this MG/YA fantasy. Full review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Anya is an orphaned young princess, about twelve or thirteen years old, and a bookworm (as many of the best princesses in literature seem to be). She and her fifteen year old sister Morven are orphans under the dubious care of their stepmother, a botanist who is enthusiastic about plants but completely uninterested in and uninvolved with the girls, and Duke Rikard, their stepstepfather (which is what you get when your stepmother remarries after your father dies). Morven is supposed to be crowned as the queen when she turns sixteen in three months, but she’s far more interested in handsome princes than in ruling. This suits Duke Rickard just fine: he’s a black-hearted sorcerer who’s intent on making his control of the Kingdom of Trallonia permanent.

Duke Rickard is also given to transforming unlucky servants and hapless princes into frogs. Morven asks Anya to do the dirty work of changing his latest frog victim, Prince Denholm, back into a human with a kiss (kissing frogs, even if they’re really handsome princes, is definitely not on Morven’s agenda). Luckily their librarian has a magical Transmogrification Reversal Lip Balm that will reverse the transformation spell without the otherwise necessary ingredient of true love. Unluckily, Anya kisses the wrong frog with the last of the lip balm, and although that prince was happy to no longer be a frog, it does still leave Denholm in a frog-sized bind, and making more lip balm involves assembling several tricky ingredients, like a pint of witches’ tears and six pea-sized stones of three-day-old hail from a mountaintop.

Coincidentally, at the same time Duke Rickard announces to Anya that he’s sending her far away to a school for royalty, on a journey that seems likely to be fatal for Anya and leave Morven alone and in danger. Tanitha, the senior royal dog, tells Anya that she must leave the palace and seek help from others to defeat the Duke. So Anya embarks on a twofold Quest: searching for the elusive ingredients to the Transmogrification Reversal Lip Balm, and also searching for those who can help to overthrow Duke Rikard and stop his evil plans. Anya is assisted in her quest by Ardent, a young and excitable royal dog; Shrub, a junior thief who’s also been shape-changed by a sorcerer into a huge, bright orange talking newt ...

description

(two shout-outs to Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the price of one!); a Good Wizard who tries to evade her obligation not to directly help Anya; Snow White ― who is NOT what you’d expect ― and seven dwarves; and many others. Anya’s quest turns out to encompass more than she expected, as several people that she meets strongly encourage her to do even more to change their society ― in particular, to bring back the All-Encompassing Bill of Rights and Wrongs.

Garth Nix has a lot of fun with Frogkisser!, weaving in various fairy tales and fantasies, both old and new, and twisting them in humorous ways. Besides the aforementioned Monty Python references, there’s a Robin Hood figure, Bert (short for Roberta, which is only a couple degrees of separation from Robin), leader of the Association of Responsible Robbers, who steal from the rich and give to the poor in time-honored fashion. I never read Lloyd Alexander‘s CHRONICLES OF PYRDAIN series, so it took me a while to realize that there was a shout-out to Gurgi behind the Wallet of Crunchings and Munchings that Anya is offered by the semi-helpful Good Wizard.

description

And OF COURSE magic carpets have to wrap you up in a tight roll so you can hardly breathe don’t fall off them when they’re zooming around.
description
Frogkisser! is a little long-winded for a middle grade novel, but then winds up in an unexpectedly rushed manner. It didn’t entirely captivate me, and I never really lost myself in the story. But it’s a reasonably fun middle grade fantasy with some weightier elements. Nix pays attention to diversity: the Good Wizard, like Bert, is dark-skinned woman; Snow White is an old man (nicknamed for his snowy white beard) who previously was known by another familiar name; the seven dwarves include three females. Nix also works some important life lessons into the plot.
Bert and Dehlia had planted the seed of thought in her mind, and it was growing away busily and putting out new shoots of thought, all of which were quite bothersome, because they were about things like responsibility and fairness, and thinking about others, and why being a princess perhaps should be about more than just having a nice library and three meals a day, particularly when other people didn’t have these things …
These periodic discussions of the previously unexamined privilege that Anya enjoys as a wealthy princess, her responsibility to others, and the need to recognize their rights, can get a little clunky and heavy-handed, but the book’s heart is in the right place.

Frogkisser! was a finalist for the 2018 Locus Award for Young Adult Book and is a current nominee for the 2018 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
478 reviews32 followers
April 2, 2017
This reminded me so much of Dealing with Dragons, which I loved. In the author's note, Nix thanks the children's fantasy masters and it's definitely clear he draws on them for inspiration, however, he not only adds his own unique spin but progresses the fantasy genre. The three major wins for me:

1) Not one but TWO dark-skinned women who are awesome and just living their lives being awesome. They're not slaves or former slaves, they're not villains, and they're not foreigners within the fantasy world. It's like some sort of miracle! Thank you, Garth Nix!

2) There is no romance plot for the protagonist. It's all about her learning (especially learning about herself) and fulfilling her quest. Not even a maybe-in-the-future-possible-romance plot. How refreshing!

3) It's all about recognizing privilege and what truly recognizing privilege means when you are privileged. It means your life will change and that's a good thing!

And this book is funny! How? I don't know but it somehow manages to deal with something as serious as privilege without being a downer. Kuddos to Nix for once again giving us a story that is well-rounded and satisfying in every way.
Profile Image for Justkeepreading.
1,756 reviews70 followers
February 23, 2017
Thank you to Netgalley, Publishers and Garth Nix for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance reader copy of this book.

You can find my review on both Goodreads and Amazon. On goodreads.com/karenwhittard and on Amazon under k.e.whittard from publication date.

I am truely, truely gutted that I didn't like this book. I love nothing more then stories about princesses, talking animals, magical lands and far off places. Yes I am a 100% certified Disney geek.

But this book just didn't have the magic that I was so desperately looking for.

I hoped that the book would be filled of excitement and hilarious laugh out loud moments. With adorable characters. But it just fell flat for me. I felt that it plodded along with no particular direction In mind. I also found it incredibly slow. I feel that it was in desperate need of a zest of life and some magic dust. Sadly not for me.

Let me know what you thought in the comments. I always love hearing people's point of view.

Happy reading everyone
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,054 reviews351 followers
June 11, 2020
Ahoy there me mateys! So I have a wee bit of an obsession with Garth Nix and his wonderful stories. I love him so much that he was the featured author in me first broadside. I have read 25 of his novels. So when I heard he was writing this fairy tale I had to have it. Plus awesome cover.

In his "Acknowledgments" of this novel, Mr. Nix claims inspiration from "the works of Lloyd Alexander, Nicholas Stuart Gray, Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, and T.H. White." I don't know Nicholas Stuart Gray's work (must remedy) but I can certainly see nods to all of the other authors he listed in the story.

The story centers around Anya who is the youngest princess of the kingdom of Trallonia. One of her sister's suitors is transformed into a frog by their evil sorcerer step-stepfather. In order to stop the tears and hysterics, Anya promises to turn him back into a human. This inadvertently becomes way more complicated than originally planned thus leading Anya off on a Quest!

The subversive nature of the story is what I loved about it. Favorites include the use of the magic carpet, Gerald the Heralds, otters transformed into people, how the army is formed, having step-stepparents, snow white, etc. I very much enjoyed Anya as a character. And the frogs were just delightful.

The only downside to this novel for me was the pacing. It is a very episodic story where the heroine gets a lot of help from people she just happens to meet along the way. Makes more sense after reading the acknowledgements but I would have preferred Anya to show a lot more initiative. Of course Anya doesn't really show initiative in the beginning and is a very reluctant hero who grows into her role. But unlike many of me other Nix reads, this didn't zing.

I am okay with that lack of zing. This was a solid story with a lot of fun ideas and characters. Mr. Nix continues to remain an auto-buy author. And apparently he has a new novel coming out in October this year. Arrrr!!!

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for Erica.
1,293 reviews425 followers
July 31, 2019
This one's a solid 3 for me.
The things I liked, I really liked but, man, did it get heavy handed at times.


Likes:
It's a traditional quest-based fantasy and I still love those. This one features 12-year-old Anya who is menaced by her evil step-stepfather and has to pick up the slack left by her ditzy, always-in-love older sister so winds up on a double quest: unfrog an ensorcelled prince and also save the kingdom. Everyone in the story keeps pointing out that things get done if you just take them one step at a time and do the first things first. This is a super important message because sometimes everything gets overwhelming and learning to prioritize is super helpful in accomplishing questing goals.
I was worried the frog prince would have his spell broken because he and Anya would fall in love during their journey and she'd be able to provide True Love's Kiss but that did not happen. The prince was an oblivious frog and Anya was busy gathering ingredients for lip balm so they didn't really get to know each other at all and that made me ridiculously happy.
There are shout outs to all sorts of popular fantasy stories, fables, and fairy tales, my favorites being the Wallet of Inexhaustible Munchings and Crunchings.

and the witches on the hill.
The characters are fun. There's a girl and a royal dog, a human-turned-newt and an otter-turned-human, wizards, witches, druids, and dwarves (7 of them!) plus the over the top villainous step-stepfather. It's a delightful cast.

Dislikes:
It's soooo preachy, spelling out the meaning of privilege in large bright block letters. Anya often stops to realize she's never had to think about this issue or that because she's always been safely tucked away in the library reading her books plus she's always had plenty of food and clothing and money. Now she's realizing that perhaps she could do something important with her power. This is the weighted blanket of explanations and it's way too smothering in this story.
This is probably supposed to be all Yay, Feminism! but there are moments that work directly against woman power. For instance, the otter who is turned human has a long name, Champion Smoothstone Oyster Breaker, that's just too hard for Anya to say so she shortens it to "Smoothie," a cute, soft little name for a cute, soft, little female otter person. However, Anya manages to remember the longass name of the flying carpet and the other otters she meets later, all of whom get non-cute nicknames, so what the hell? Anya is often problematic as she wrestles with turning ideals into actions.
She's also cruel, hauling the frog prince with her on her quest, housing him in a wicker basket and dribbling water on him from time to time.
The worst offense in this book, though, which has nothing to do with Anya, is

Overall, it's a fun story and I would have loved it so much when I was nine. However, it does have some serious problems that detract from the bigger picture so 3 stars it is.
Profile Image for Nigel.
789 reviews85 followers
March 1, 2017
Briefly - Entertaining read about princesses and frogs that need kissing to transform them back to their old selves. Probably aimed at pre teen/early teen however a fun read at other ages.

In full
This book has all the ingredients for an entertaining modern day fairy story. It written by Garth Nix an author whose fantasy books for adults I am a fan of. There is an evil stepstepfather (not a misspelling) who is the Duke, Royal talking dogs and an apparently well balanced princess who needs to kiss a frog on behalf of her sister. The sister - older and due to inherit the throne - may be less well balanced. Throw in a librarian who turns into an owl when stressed and some other very good characters indeed and the stage is set.

The princess who needs to kiss a frog (and maybe not just one…) is Anya. She sets off on her quest - sorry Quest with a capital letter - together with one of the dogs and a frog to be kissed. This is the story of that Quest. This really does have all the aspects of a fantasy fairytale that you need. The characters were entertaining, at least those who were not evil anyway. The journey is classic quest stuff with people who may or may not be able to help out popping up from time to time.

I'd suggest that this is probably going to be enjoyed most be pre teens or early teens however it is an entertaining read for adults too. Personally I read it quickly and it kept me interested in a light way. The stage is definitely set for book two which should appeal to those who enjoyed this one. A very solid 3.5/5 as far as I'm concerned.

Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review

http://viewson.org.uk/fantasy/frogkis...
Profile Image for Mary Catelli.
Author 53 books165 followers
May 29, 2021
The adventures of Anya, a second princess, out to disenchant the prince whom her sister Morven had been in love with, until her stepstepfather had not only turned this prince into a frog, but produced another prince to lure Morven's heart away. (Not that that's too difficult.)

And he threatens to send Anya to school at a place so far away that she's in danger merely going there.

Fortunately, the failed sorcerer who is the librarian had a recipe for lip balm that makes other kisses effective. They accidentally use it on another enchanted frog, though, so Anya must go on a quest to ready the balm.

It involves a transformed otter, how druids retire, whether a small boy is a thief, witches who need onions, what the kingdoms were like when unified as one, the differences between sorcerers and wizards, why it's said that a Garden is a prison, and more.

Enjoyable adventures, leavened with lightness.
Profile Image for Mandy.
636 reviews65 followers
April 26, 2017
When I first found this book - I literally can't even remember how I did...I think it was on a blog? I'm not sure, but let's go back to the story - When I first found this book, I thought it sounded like an adorable fairytale book that would remind me of one of my favorite princesses, Tiana. And when I read a few of the first pages, it reminded me of one of my favorite cult classics: The Princess Bride. So of course, I had to pick up this Princess Bride meets The Princess and the Frog type book, and it was just as good as I thought it to be!

Now, I saw there was a bit of conflict on whether this was middle grade or young adult. I believe it is being marketed as young adult, but I truly believe it is something in between. It's not quite YA, but it's not quite middle grade in a true sense. I do believe it leans a bit more toward middle grade, though, and that did not deter from my enjoyment of the book.

I absolutely enjoyed Nix's writing throughout. As I said, it had a witty humor to it, and some things were outlandish were taken seriously - which made for brilliant humor. The first few chapters were the best in the book because the setup of the novel were hilarious. He had a very fairytale-esque writing style to the novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also loved the whole concept. There were so many humorous parts to it, and it was both celebrating and parodying common fairytale tropes at the same times. The fact that she needed lip balm to save a prince? The evil guy is a step-stepfather? One of the great sorcerers turns into an owl when he gets scared? It was amusing, and I loved all the odd little additions. Don't even get me started with Gerald the Herald. XD

Anya was a fantastic heroine as well. I loved her, and she was such a great role model - especially if this was for a middle grade audience. She didn't really want to go on a grand adventure or have big responsibilities, but she steps up to the plate. It's so easy to relate to, and I loved reading about her adventure.

Her team was adorable and fantastic at the same time. Each one was so unique and brought such an odd and wonderful dynamic to it. There were no swoons to be had, and I was totally fine with that - surprise, surprise, I know.

The only issue is that sometimes I would have a disconnect with it. I really enjoyed it, but sometimes it would have a slower pace or it just dropped out of my interest. I'm not sure what that was, but it didn't leave me with a super big impact by the end - despite my enjoyment of the novel throughout. That is why I have a drop in crown.

Overall, this was an adorable read. It's the perfect mix of middle grade, YA, and fairytale retelling. Nix took The Princess and the Frog fairytale and made it wholly unique. Four crowns, and a visit from Tiana and an Ariel rating!
Profile Image for Audrey.
999 reviews152 followers
April 25, 2017
Ideal for middle-grade readers, this has all the feel of a traditional fairy tale. There's a bad guy who transforms people into frogs and other animals and quirky heroes and a princess sent on a Quest. Half-way through the book, the princess has made barely any progress on her quest, so the ending starting feeling rushed: She's supposed to overthrow the evil overlord, restore a bunch of frogs to human form, and reinstate justice and the rule of law through out the land -- all in the last 25 pages.
Profile Image for Furrawn.
531 reviews43 followers
April 25, 2018
I read this book because the Abhorsen series by Garth is one of my favorite series. We named our Afghan hound Mina Harker, but I almost maned her Lirael. The disreputable dog is one of my favorite characters from the literary world.

Frogkisser is very cute. An evil wizard turns his enemies into frogs. The protagonist is a very strong female with a loyal dog by her side. There’s a newt who isn’t actually a newt. A struggle for good to triumph over evil... and the herald angle is hilarious.

I enjoyed the book... I still wish that Mr. Nix would write another really long Abhorsen novel. Please!
A VERY LONG novel. Lots of pages with a tiny font. Please!! Miriel? Or Truffriel? Or Zazriel? Just please write another deep long Abhorsen novel!
Profile Image for Jeanne.
788 reviews4 followers
June 8, 2017
The book was OK; however this reader is a bit too old for fairy tales. Probably more appropriate for the 'tween market. There were a couple intriguing characters, but I need a bit more suspense than this story had to offer. 4 out of 10.
Profile Image for Magen.
776 reviews31 followers
June 5, 2018
Probably more like 2.5 stars. It was fine, but I wasn't ever engaged in the story. It had a strong female, sort of feminist spin, which was nice. My biggest problem with the book is what was the point of the quest? Initially, it starts entirely as a sister promise, which was rather silly in the first place, but when it's apparent there will be an entire quest involved to fulfill the promise, and the sister has entirely moved on, why didn't the princess just be like, oh well, no more quest. As an outside observer, I can come up with reasons why she should have gone on the quest, but she doesn't have those thoughts or think those things, so there's no motivation for her to go on the quest. Then it just becomes random obligations as she makes more promises in order to fulfill that promise. This book is a lesson in the importance of either not making promises or being very clear on exactly what you promise (like the whole scene with the witches). It was also frustrating that it was so easy for her and her friends to succeed where dozens of people over hundreds of years had failed and not for any particularly good reason. The plot was too predictable, even for a children's story, and there just wasn't any depth. Yes, Anaya eventually grows, but not by much and really more because she keeps being presented with the idea than some great personal growth. I wanted to like this book since I generally do enjoy fantasy, especially with a strong female main character, but it was so poorly done that I feel like it ended up being the opposite of feminist. In general, I don't know how feminist a book which requires a princess, and no other person, to kiss a lot of frogs, truly can be. I'd sort of recommend this to people who particularly enjoy this genre, my biggest reservation is that the quest isn't very interesting and didn't start for a compelling reason.
Profile Image for Alicia Huxtable.
1,654 reviews56 followers
April 20, 2017
While this book is for ages 13-16 and up, I found it to be quite an amusing read. The language is perfect for the age it is directed at.
A princess goes on a quest with a royal talking dog and some transformed humans, all while her sorcerer stepstepfather is hunting her with his own transformed hunters. Rather amusing with a few laugh out loud moments
Profile Image for Laura (Kyahgirl).
2,041 reviews143 followers
May 20, 2018
3.5/5

An engaging fantasy featuring intrepid young protagonists, sorcerers, magic wielders, talking animals and such. I think this book can be enjoyed by adults as well as children.
At some points I found it a bit heavy on the ‘lesson’ but it wasn’t obnoxious.
Profile Image for Bruce Gargoyle.
874 reviews143 followers
March 23, 2017
I received a copy of this title from Allen & Unwin for review.

3.5 stars

Ten Second Synopsis:
Any a, second princess of Trallonia, is perfectly happy hanging out in the castle library with her friend Gottfried and Ardent, one of the Royal Dogs. When her evil sorcerer stepstepfather turns Anya's older sister's true love into a frog, Anya is thrust, reluctantly, into a quest to collect ingredients for a magic lip balm to turn him back again.

Although Nix's work is often touted as YA, it fits just as neatly into the plain old fantasy category, to be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Frogkisser! is no different in this regard, for while it features a reasonably young protagonist, it's packed full of adult characters (temporarily transformed into animals and otherwise) and is reminiscent of the work of Terry Pratchet and Piers Anthony (although much less punny and of much higher quality than the latter).

Anya is the second-eldest princess in her castle which is ruled over by her stepmother and stepstepfather after the death of both her parents...at different times...which explains why she has two stepparents. Her older sister Morven is due to inherit the kingdom of Trallonia and become ruler when she comes of age, but is reasonably vacuous and distracted by handsome princes, and their stepstepfather, the evil Duke, is using his sorcery to keep her that way so that he can take over the kingdom. Anya, being another roadblock for the megalomaniacal Duke, leaves on a quest to transform one of Morven's suitors, Prince Denholm, back from the frog form into which he has been spelled, and thus avoids (by a slim margin) being murdered in her bed.

The story features all the types of characters you'd expect from a comedy-fantasy, with talking royal dogs (my favourites), a thief-turned-into-a-newt, an otter turned into a human-otter-thing, good wizards, retired wizards, dwarves, giants, thieves and witches, among others. The tone is light throughout, even during the suspenseful parts, and doused with dry humour (if it's possible to be doused with dryness, that is). The plot is quite episodic as these stories often are, with Anya having to meet and overcome a variety of quirky stumbling blocks along her road toward the ingredients for frog-transforming lip balm.

The best thing about this book is that Anya, initially, is completely out for number one - in a self-focused, rather than self-centred way - and along the way she must ponder whether or not it is worth it for her to get involved in the bigger issues facing the kingdoms and their citizens. Issues about justice in governance, the rules of succession and the obligations of richer people to poorer people, for instance. Underlying the entertainment factors of fantasy and humour in the story is a subtle exploration of privilege, and the responsibilities (if any) that the more privileged in society have toward those without power and without the means to gain agency in their own lives. Nix has been a bit clever here, popping such a topical issue neatly into a fun and fantastic jaunt through another world.

Tropes about princesses are both reinforced and turned on their head in the story, with Anya's and Morven's paths diverging, but in ways that make sense for the respective characters. I actually understood Morven's vibe to an extent, because we have our own Prince Maggers who turns up on our back deck most days to regale us with delightful tunes.

I enjoyed reading this story because of the familiarity of the humor and fantasy elements and the original, yet slightly expected, characters. I mean, you can't really have a fantasy quest without at least one animal transformed into a human or vice versa, can you? Having said that, Gerald the Herald (all of them) gave me a good chuckle every time he/she/they appeared. Frogkisser! is certainly a change of pace from Nix's Abhorsen series but at the same time another worthy addition to Australian fantasy and YA writing.
Profile Image for Steph Cuthbert.
Author 2 books21 followers
April 3, 2017
This was such a delightful book. I throughly enjoyed the quest, the subverted fairytale tropes, and the large cast of strong, independent and intelligent female characters. Frogkisser! is well suited to the younger end of the YA audience who are transitioning from MG. Having said that, I still found it thoroughly entertaining.
1,326 reviews19 followers
January 12, 2018
This is really charming. It's a great little story about a younger princess who inadvertently winds up on a quest when her evil sorcerer stepstepfather tries to take over her kingdom. There's nothing groundbreaking about it, really, but it's well written, and the world is well developed (kind of wish there were more books in this world). How can you not love a book that features a librarian with a case of frequently going owl?

It's also a nice twist on the whole "Princess kisses frog" trope. Really enjoyed the read.

2018 Reading Challenge - A bookw with the name of an animal in the title.
Profile Image for Kate Forsyth.
Author 75 books2,309 followers
August 27, 2018
A funny and charming subversion of the well-known ‘Frog Prince’ fairytale, Frogkisser! by Garth Nix tells the story of a bookish princess, an eager but clumsy puppy, and a whole host of young men turned into amphibians.

Princess Anya just wants to be left alone to study sorcery, but unfortunately her step-stepfather wants to take over the kingdom and so transforms any suitor for her big sister’s hand into a frog. Anya reluctantly sets out on a quest to gather the ingredients that will enable her to turn the enchanted frogs back into humans, and encounters many obstacles – both humorous and deadly – along the way.

Along her travels, Anya learns a great deal about the dangers of absolute power and the importance of kindness, compassion and political awareness. Fabulous fun!
Profile Image for Nara.
937 reviews124 followers
March 9, 2017
Frogkisser was an adorable read that is likely better suited to younger readers. It had quite a fun plot, but at the same time it was relatively simplistic and didn't feel like there was a deeper message to be understood. It turned a lot of tropes around with a humorously dismissive spin, and as stated in the blurb "irreverent" is quite a nice adjective to describe the novel.

I haven't read Garth Nix's other Middle Grade novel, but Frogkisser is quite different from his other novels that I've read (Sabriel, Clariel). The tone is much more casual and funny, and the book focuses on Anya's quest to defeat her evil stepfather. Along for the journey are several great characters including Ardent, a talking Royal Dog (probably my favourite character), a human turned into a newt, an otter turned into some weird human/otter fusion, wizards, witches etc etc. There are a lot of characters who appear, but it doesn't necessarily get confusing because you don't really need remember them as they appear quite briefly and then Anya goes on in her quest.

I must admit, overall, the book was a bit too simplistic for my liking. I think this is a reflection of who the target audience is rather than that the book is poorly written. There are some MG novels that are for everyone and there are others that are for MG level readers, and I'd say that Frogkisser falls in the latter category. Not to say that it was a bad read, but I personally didn't enjoy it to the level that I might have had I read it when I was younger.

I would recommend it if you're looking for a quick and fun read.

Ratings
Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Profile Image for Jannah A.
885 reviews52 followers
January 21, 2018
4.5/5

Pretty darn awesome! Finally, after what feels like ages compared to my normal reading time, I got this done and dusted. Read via eBook, TTS of eBook and also audio book (with a particularly squeaky voiced actress which left a little to be desired, so I don't recommend the audiobook).

First of all, this book reminds me of a lot of my favourite middle grade fairytale/fantasy adventures which have heroines dealing with quests or dangerous tricky circumstances, such as Tuesdays at the Castle, Castle Hangnail, Dealing with Dragons, The Wee Free Men, Princess Academy and more.

Truthfully I've never been a fan of Garth Nix, but from reading the blurb and friends' reviews, this was right up my street. And it turned out so, filled with a strong resourceful and persevering (!) heroine and curious sidekicks and quest after quest.

Princess Anya (hopeful sorcerer and avid book reader) of the Kingdom of Trallonia, resides in the castle along with her older sister Morven (rather spoilt and in habit of kicking and screaming when she doesn't gain her way). They are under the rule of their evil step-step-father (its complicated) Duke Rikard who plans to overthrow the kingdom. He is a very powerful sorcerer, and as a rule, the more powerful your sorcery, the less likely you are to have a heart, so this is very bad indeed. Their real parents have died long ago, leaving mainly the trusted royal dogs, who can talk and advise, to guard over them.

The Duke has a nasty habit of transforming people, and when he transforms Morven's latest swain Denholm into a frog, she's pressured to go off to a quest to cure him.
Adent, one of the royal puppies (very enthusiastic and loves food) goes along and soon she collects many other creatures on her journey.

She encounters a league of Responsible Robbers, the Good Wizard, Seven dwarves and more as her quest turns from turning one frog back into a human to saving an entire kingdom.

It felt like a mix of many different fairytales and books, lending from tropes but more for the comic and subtle satire and reinventing old stories in a clever way.

I think what makes this stand out a bit more for me was the fact Anya had such a lot on her shoulders and it didn't get any lighter, and even if she was getting help, she was still had the headache of being in charge.
Though there was a sense of fun and comic turn the underlying responsibility lent it a more grown up feel. At times I did need a break from it as it felt a bit too jam-packed. Overall highly enjoyable.
Profile Image for Karen ⊰✿.
1,348 reviews
March 20, 2022
Princess Anya needs to turn Prince Denholm back into a human after her evil step-step father transformed him into a prince. But is seems there are a lot of frogs that were once a Prince. And a lot more going on in the kingdom than she realised.
And so starts Anya's quest as she meets witches, wizards, newts, a unicorn and other magical creatures... some of whom are helpful and others who are not.
Cute modern day fairytale, well suited for middle grade readers.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
412 reviews164 followers
October 8, 2017
Garth Nix is turning into a one hit wonder for me. I read Sabriel as an impressionable teen and recently revisited it. It still sent chills down my spine. But nothing else I've read by Nix has been nearly as impressive.

Frogkisser! is a fairy tale mash-up that pays homage to some of Nix's favorite authors as a child: Diana Wynne Jones, Lloyd Alexander, Nicholas Stuart Gray. It's often tongue in cheek, and the characters are thoroughly familiar with the fairy tale tropes they are forced into. Princess Anya is on the run from her evil stepstepfather (her father's second wife's second husband), a sorcerer looking to steal the kingdom. She's also on a quest to restore the prince her stepstepfather turned into a frog, but because of the whole True Love requirement - and the prince was her sister's boyfriend, not her own - she can't just kiss the frog: she needs to make a magical transformative lip balm with arcane ingredients. And thus begins the Quest.

I thought I'd love Frogkisser!, but the story never really takes off. It's a pedestrian tale with a slight everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel as Nix tosses in bits of many fairy tales and cliches into the mix. At under 400 pages, it nonetheless feels long. (Which might be an impressive achievement given that there are wizards, ogres, druids, cockatrices, and even enchanted otters.) There are altogether too many characters and not enough development of any except Anya. It just plods on, episode by episode, until the rather predictable ending.

There were a couple of highlights for me. Nix seems particularly delighted in his skewering of magical conventions, and I loved a reference to a magical object from Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and chortled out loud about the reality of transportation via magic carpet. Apparently it's nothing like the books say.

While I appreciate Nix's cleverness, the obsessive piecing together of fairy tale bits often gets in the way of telling an original, compelling story. Too bad. Nix is capable of much, much better.
Profile Image for TheMadHatter.
1,233 reviews32 followers
April 26, 2017
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars.

This is the first Garth Nix book I have read and it is in the vibe of Alice in Wonderland and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland meaning it is oh so clever and witty with its play on words and bizarre characters (I love Gerald the Heralds!).

As a taste of the writing....."She supposed that by their very nature, Good Wizards would be required to help questers like herself. Otherwise they'd be Bad Wizards. Unless, of course, the reference was to their skill at wizardry. Then a Good Wizard would be a skilled wizard, and their ethics and behaviour would be up to them, and a Bad Wizard would just be incompetent, but could be quite nice".

Unfortunately, I ultimately find these books quite difficult to get into. Yes, they are quirky and witty, but for me there is no connection with the characters so I feel like an outsider reading funny words on a page and these words sometimes hit the mark and sometimes feel like they are trying too hard to be witty at the price of losing a connection with the reader.

However, Alice in Wonderland has become one of my fave books, so I think these books work best for me on re-read. Not sure though whether I could bring myself to re-read for a while. The last 50 or so pages of this book, when the FrogKisser really lives up to her name, are quite compelling, but for the most part, this book was a little too easy to put down and a little too hard to pick up when there are so many other pickings around.

"What kind of princess are you?" asked Smoothie......."Not the kind that needs rescuing" said Anya firmly. Amen!
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 27 books5,588 followers
May 2, 2017
Absolutely charming! A perfect book for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, or Patricia C. Wrede's ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES. Also for fans of, dare I say it, my own Castle Glower books?

In this book, young Princess Anya sets off on a Quest, aided by one of the Royal Dogs. Her quest, on the surface, is to gather the ingredients needed to make a magical lip balm that will enable her to kiss a frog and turn him back into a prince. (The lip balm is necessary because she's not his true love, you see.) Thwarted by weasel folk and her stepstepfather, an evil sorcerer, she soon finds herself amongst druids, Good Wizards, dwarves, otters, loud-mouthed heralds, and responsible thieves. Not to mention also promising to kiss a number of other transformed persons, including a newt, an otter, and dozens of hapless frogs.

This is a fun adventure, with plenty of magic and humor, but also with some very good messages about the danger of solving all your problems with magic, as well as the duties of a ruling body to their citizens (which seems extremely timely).
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,418 followers
Read
March 31, 2017
A nice and pacy read, with a great protagonist - and no romance! I love Anya - and Nix's best character trope, the loyal talking dog, makes another excellent appearance. This is a low middle grade read - aimed at 9 and over, I would say. I was expecting a little older, so didn't enjoy it as much as I could, but as always Nix is very funny. It's a great romp all round.
Profile Image for Reviews May Vary.
1,180 reviews93 followers
July 11, 2017
I loved this book. It's a middle grade story about a girl who is on the hunt for the ingredients for a lip balm that will allow her to turn cursed people back into their regular form. This is an awesome princess story! #ThisPrincessSavesHerself
Profile Image for Annemiek.
52 reviews2 followers
January 17, 2022
A good YA quest story in a fairytale setting. The author acknowledges that part of his inspiration for this book came from reading Diana Wynne Jones, one of my favourite authors. I saw and liked the connection.
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