Maid of Honor by Kathy M Raylen
“A ruse, a switch, a masquerade…the second princess is her maid.”
In a reverse adaptation of The Goose Girl, Kathy Raylen creates a story of intrigue and identity in Maid of Honor. Annalise has been the personal maid/companion to Princess Direnna since they were young and is intimately familiar with her personality and persona. At one time even considering that they may be friends. With Princess Direnna’s approaching coming of age ceremony Annalise quickly realizes that she is only a pawn for the Princess to manipulate as she is forced to blacken her ginger hair, making her look strikingly like the Princess, and assume the mundane duties the Princess decides to shirk. If it were only ceremonial tasks, Annalise would be fine, but strange things are occurring in the Kingdom as it appears a long ago destroyed beast is making its return and enemies of the crown have infiltrated the inner circles. Princess Direnna seems more and more unconcerned with the issues of the Kingdom the more the scam works and she forces Annalise to increasingly assume her identity as she sneaks off to clandestine rendezvous with a mysterious man. One day the Princess does not return and Annalise must risk her life to find the spoiled Princess and save the Kingdom.
Annalise is a complex character that, with her whit, smarts, and determination, will keep you engaged in Maid of Honor. Taking on the persona of the cold and haughty Direnna is the last thing she wants to do as fear of discovery dogs her every move. But as a simple servant and the Princess’s personal maid she has no choice in the matter. While wearing the beautiful clothes and being treated with respect has its moments, she is constantly reminded of those whose lives are much more difficult. As her masquerade continues and she assumes more of the Princess’s responsibilities she uses her temporary “power” to enact lasting changes where she can. What she can’t change is her growing affection for the young Lord Eslyn Leander, who believes he is developing a connection with her royal highness Direnna, as they are thrown into situations due the the re-emergence of the Moorhowlers, creations of daemonic and fell magicks, and the subversive activities of the king’s enemies. This is all complicated by the enigmatic and masked court jester, Russo, who only speaks in rhyme.
Maid of Honor is a unique twist to a well known Grimms Fairy Tale that quickly takes on a life of its own. Packed with intrigue and suspense, it is also an uplifting story of following your heart and making the “hard” right choices instead of taking the easy road, of never losing sight of who you are even when you are forced to into a life not of your making. While it is written for young adults and teens, adults will be well entertained by the solid plot, great characters, and budding romance. Raylen brings the major plotlines to a satisfying end, but gives us a major surprise in the Epilogue that teases a continuation of the story.