Garth Nix’s Frogkisser is a refreshing fairy tale adventure that features all of the usual tropes in an unusual and unique way.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, or even on here, you might know by now that I really love this novel. I love it so much, in fact, that it made it to my top 6 books of 2016 list (which you can read right here) at number 1!
I have quite a lot to say about this novel so this review may end up being very long, but I hope that you read the review nonetheless and that you pick up the novel to read for yourself!
I’m going to start off by talking about the marketing.
The marketing is the first thing I saw about this novel. I was at Yallfest this past year, and one of the booths there had copies of the ARC, as well as the perfect piece of swag to go along with it: chapstick…which is a perfect considering the name and plot of the story.
The cover of this novel (or the ARC at least-I’m not sure if the cover will change for the release or not) is also great. It’s eye-catching and really gorgeous and reflects the theme of the novel in a way that many novel covers don’t
Next, I’m going to talk about the storyline.
Nix does a great job at taking a well-worn fairy tale convention and twisting it on its head by adding humor and characters that play around with the classic tropes.
The first time I noticed how self-aware this novel is was when we got to know more about the main character, Anya. Anya is well aware of her status as a princess, and because of this, she is able to break the norms of a traditional princess. Instead of being a princess who has everything handed to her on a silver platter, Anya is the one going out and securing things for herself. She, unlike many princesses in fairy tales, makes an effort to better the world around her, which is a refreshing thing to see. Anya’s heroism is exemplified when looking at her sister Morven, a stereotypical princess, who Nix has provided as a nice foil to Anya’s character. While Morven is busy pining after various princes, Anya is busy advancing her skill set and trying to take down the evil in the world around her.
(I will do my best to keep this section vague, to avoid spoilers)
We also see this self-aware element through other moments along the novel, like when our characters are introduced to the wizard and then the seven dwarves, all the spells and sorcery, having to transform animals back into humans via kiss, etc.
It also happens with characters, like Anya’s evil step-stepfather, the troll, and more.
In these parts of the story, the typical conventions of these fairytale elements are playfully mocked by the characters within the story, giving Frogkisser and even more lovable element. I would go into more detail, but I would rather not spoil it for you with the hopes that you will pick it up and read it for yourself.
Now, let’s talk about characters.
In order for me to really love a story, I have to like both the plot and the characters…but characters have always been my favorite part of a novel.
That being said, there was not a single character in this novel that was not unique and charming in their own way.
Just look at our main group of characters:
There’s Anya: a princess with an affinity for sorcery who’s just trying to keep a sister’s promise.
Ardent: a talking dog, one of many in Anya’s castle, who is the perfect embodiment of a dog.
Shrub: a young (good) thief that has been turned into a newt by a group of Sorcerors.
Smoothie: an otter who has been transformed into a human by Anya’s evil step-step father.
Sounds like an interesting group, right?
Not only were they great on their own, but they were great for the type of novel that Nix has written. For a quest-based novel, you really need to have a great group of characters to grow attached to, and Nix created just that.
Even the side characters and the ones that aren’t as present throughout the story were memorable.
My favorite character of the bunch, though, has to be Shrub. Despite the fact that he is a Newt for almost the entirety of the novel, the fact that he is truly a young boy shines through his current appearance as a newt.
Another huge thing about this novel is how diverse it is.
Within this novel we have a multitude of women who are in-charge, we have princesses saving princes, we have female knights who are still called “sir”…there are a plethora of examples of diversity within Frogkisser.
While the diversity in this novel is fairly subtle and not made to be a big deal, it is still there, and being presented to readers as a normal thing, which is something that I really appreciate.
Lastly, I appreciate that this novel can be read to any age.
While it may be marketed for a specific age group, I honestly think that this novel would be great to read to any age group.
Princess Anya is a great example for young children. She’s headstrong, she believes in doing what is right, and she never treats anyone in a way that they do not deserve to be treated. For young girls specifically, she proves that you don’t have to have a love interest in order to be the female lead, which is something that I think is really important.
Overall, I gave this novel a 5/5 stars!
As mentioned before, this novel was listed in my top 6 books of 2016, which you can read here.
Also, if I’ve hooked you enough to check this book out, here’s a link to where you can order it for yourself in hardback, and paperback!
As always, thank you so much for reading!
Have you read Frogkisser? Let me know in the comments down below!