Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Palace of Mirrors

Palace of Mirrors

Margaret Peterson Haddix
For ages 10 to 14
Simon and Schuster, 2008   ISBN: 1416939156

For as long as she can remember, Cecilia has known that she is the one “true princess.” She may look like a dirty peasant girl, but she is really the lost princess, the daughter of the last king and queen of Suala. Cecilia has been told that she was hidden so that her parents’ killers couldn’t find her. A pretend princess, Desmia, has been put in her place, and when the time is right Cecilia will be brought out of hiding to claim her birthright.

Cecilia is just beginning to think that the time has come to tell her friend Harper about her secret, when her enemies find her. Quickly Harper and Cecilia leave the village and they journey to the capital city, Cortona. Cecilia decides that the time has come to take her place on the throne so that Desmia no longer has to live in fear of possible assassination.

When they get to Cortona, Cecilia and Harper quickly discover that their task is not going to be as easy as they thought it was going to be. Finding a way to talk to the remote Princess Desmia is going to be very hard to do. How can they talk to the girl if she never leaves the palace? How can they make anyone listen to them when they look like a pair of beggars?

By sheer luck, Cecilia and Harper do manage to talk to Desmia, only to discover that the situation is infinitely more complicated than they thought it was.

In this companion to her book Just Ella, Margaret Peterson Haddix tells a wonderful story that is packed full of surprises. Just when you think you know what is going to happen next, something unexpected occurs.

Though this is a fairy tale of sorts, it is also a story that explores the growing up process. As she tries to figure out what is going on, Cecilia learns a great deal about herself, and she comes to appreciate that the real world can often be a very complicated place.