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Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Desi is not the happiest of teenagers, although when are teenage girls ever actually happy? Anyway, her ex-best friend Celeste is doing everything possible to humiliate and alienate her from their friends, and to top it all off Celeste is also dating the boy Desi has a huge crush on, Hayden. (He is perhaps a dubious prospect for Desi since he can't even get her name right). Still, she has landed herself a summer job working for a pet store and although it involves being dressed in a furry groundhog costume at least no-one can tell it's her in there. Well, not until Celeste comes along and unmasks her. In front of Hayden. Desi finds herself feeling more and more like vapour every day, that she doesn't matter or almost doesn't exist. Cue the fairy-godmother style entrance of Meredith, an agent for Facade which is a magical company that offers jobs to teens with magical potential to work as substitute princesses...

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Magical princess wish-fulfillment that's funny and easy to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Egmont
ISBN: 978-1405246125

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I enjoyed this story, although it is fairly predictable and very light and fluffy - not that light and fluffy is a bad thing, but it's worth mentioning that it's certainly a world away from Twilight. I could definitely see the appeal of the magical situation Desi finds herself in, not only in her physical transformations, so escaping her own body, but also the emotional experience of being able to share in someone else's life, walking a mile in their shoes as it were. The fact that these girls Desi pretends to be are royal adds an extra spark of excitement I think.

Most girls have wished to be a princess at least once in their lives. I also liked that rather than using these transformations to her own benefit Desi goes out of her way to try to improve the lives of the princesses she subs for since they, of course, don't have the fabulous life she imagines them to have but actually have their own fair share of problems and insecurities. Desi reveals herself to be a sweet, naive, empathetic girl and I found that appealing and it drew me in to the story so that I found I cared what happened to her.

The magical 'tricks' are interesting (and with a bit of a beckoning nod towards Disney in hopes of being made into a film I suspect), and there's certainly potential for the story to continue with plenty of back story behind the Facade company, and its employees, alongside of Desi's continuing career with them. I felt a little impatient for the princess substitutions to begin as I was reading, and I thought that they would have lasted longer and that she would have created a lot more havoc, but they were still interesting and fun to read. I was also hopeful for a bit more of a showdown with Celeste which disappointingly never came. I thought that with Desi trying to help her princesses change their lives that it would have had more of a dramatic impact on her own life - she does change, but not in the way I'd thought. So, all in all this is a nice, gentle read that I think pre-teens and early teens who prefer princesses over vampires would enjoy.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For other readers at that awkward sort of in-between age there is always the classic A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (even if it's not really about a princess) and younger Princess wannabes might also enjoy Princesses Are Not Perfect by Kate Lum and Sue Hellard.

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