There’s something comfortingly predictable about a young adult fantasy. In The Princess Pawn (Sumach) by Maggie L. Wood, Willow is a geeky teenager trying to infiltrate the cool clique without estranging her fat, sloppy best friend. A few chapters in, she discovers that she is a magical princess and heir to the thrones of Gallandra and Keldoran.
Her world is in trouble, though, which is why she was sent to live in the realm of Earth, where her aging would be accelerated. An evil elf has placed a curse on Gallandra and Keldoran, where a deadly chess game now controls Willow and her family. She sets out with a plucky knight, a young mage and a courageous serving girl to formulate her own endgame and defeat the elf. Wood manipulates the chess metaphor to provide an unusual spin on classic fairy tale.
In some ways I preferred Willow’s struggles before her return to the enchanted kingdom, but her opportunity to resolve her earthly mistakes in her new home brings an enjoyable element of teen angst to the fantasy.