The Lady and the Frog is a charming tale that riffs off the fairy tale “The Princess and the Frog,” but it’s not a retelling—from the opening scene, it diverges rapidly into a story about magic, curses, and love. I was especially taken with Henry, one of the heroes (one of the strengths of the story is its multiple points of view). He’s honest and forthright, painfully moral in the sense that you really feel how committed he is to maintaining the honor of the woman he loves, and just very sweet. His brother Jack is more lively, and it’s his sense of humor and fun that keeps the book from being moralistic. Evelyn, Henry’s love, is intelligent and has a strong personality, and is a good match for Henry, balancing his more prudish impulses and taking an active role in fighting their enemy. It says something about the strength of their relationship that I never felt impatient with Henry’s belief that even kissing Evelyn would be somehow improper.
Even Cassandra, the “villain,” has a sympathetic side. I liked that despite this, she never got a pass on the evil things she did in pursuit of her (laudable) goal. Her defeat ultimately is a defeat of the real bad guys, the ones who put her in a position to do evil. With Henry, Evelyn, and Jack having to work together to achieve this victory, it made for a satisfying ending.
Though this is a fantasy world not our own, it’s Edwardian-influenced rather than Victorian, which made it refreshingly different. Palmer’s sense of place is strong, and fits well with the story she chose to tell. The plot has some interesting twists and draws on different folklores, weaving them together creatively and bringing the story to an intriguing conclusion. I enjoyed this book very much.
You can buy the book here.