Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup is a middle-grade fantasy about a princess who loves to garden.
Adela would rather be in the garden than anywhere else, and when one of
the gardeners -- a handsome young man named Garth who has been Adela's
friend since childhood -- receives an invitation to the mysterious Lady
Hortensia's garden party, Adela decides to go along. Lady Hortensia's
garden is truly marvelous: all kinds of flowers blooming out of season.
However, Adela accidentally discovers the secret behind Lady Hortensia's
garden: Hortensia is actually a witch, and she turns the young ladies
she invites to her garden parties into flowers. As for the young men,
she bewitches them and they become willing, lovestruck servants. Adela
must find a way to escape and bring an end to Hortensia's evil deeds,
and with the help of a talking magpie, she searches for a way to escape.
this story fell flat for me. I never got a good sense of the characters
as distinct, developing individuals. The climax of the plot came too
early in the book, leaving a lot of winding down afterwards, including
the wrapping up of a couple of romantic subplots that I just never
bought into. And on top of it all was a fairly heavy-handed message
about internal vs. external beauty. So, though I love fantasy stories
and stories about gardens, this one just didn't do the trick for me.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)