Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill; narrated by Simon Vance
Hachette Audio Group/AudioGo, 2013. 7 hours. ISBN 978-1619696006
Synopsis: 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 tells a story of an evil being—called the Nybbas—imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true—not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas’s triumph…or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules. – from Amazon.com
What instantly drew me in was, of course, Violet. I loved that she wasn’t a stereotypical beauty and that she was bold and brash and all the things ‘good princesses’ are not, and that – for the most part – she is comfortable in her own skin. It utterly broke my heart that she had to tell stories with beautiful princesses and not ugly ones, something that is incredibly influential on her as she grows older. Yet, it is her fierceness and tenacity even in the face of danger and doom. I was a little confused as to why a man was reading a voice about a young girl, then I realized that the story was being told by Cassian, the court storyteller and Violet’s most beloved teacher. Vance brings Barnhill’s fantastic world full of magic, mystery, and stories. Vance brings to life the idea behind the power of stories, the notion that stories can be both dangerous and a way to save what we hold most dear. This story is so wonderfully heart-warming and shows us that we need to embrace ourselves no matter how we are perceived by others. When I grow up, I want to be Violet.