Book Review: “Frogkisser” by Garth Nix

All Anya wants to do is sit in her library and read books about sorcery. Unfortunately, her wicked step-step-father Duke Reginald has turned her older sister’s true love, Denholm, into a frog, and Anya has sworn to change him back (even if only to get Morven to stop screaming). But before she’s able to complete her task, the Royal Dogs have sent Anya away on a Quest. Somebody’s got to stand up against Duke Reginald, after all. Now Anya has to not only save Denholm from his slimy fate but save her entire kingdom as well.

I almost hated to write that short blurb for Frogkisser because I loved it so much – and those short sentences don’t begin to describe the magic that can be found within its pages. Author Garth Nix draws on the fantasy traditions of authors like Lloyd Alexander and Diana Wynne Jones, while at the same time crafting a story that’s all his own. As a reader who adores both of those authors, I happily indulged in a story that felt very much in the spirit of those stories I love so well without ever feeling like Nix was rehashing anything. Although Nix doesn’t explicitly mention her, I also felt that the spirit of Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons was delightfully alive and well in this book!

Frogkisser shines with humor and intelligence – so much so that it literally had me laughing aloud alone in my apartment. Anya isn’t on her quest long before she earns both her eponymous nickname and a ragtag bunch of transformed friends who hope Anya will be able to change them back too. Ardent, the representative of the Royal Dogs accompanying Anya on her journey, is wonderfully dog-ish – he may be able to talk, but he also loves to eat and gets just a little too excited about rabbits. A personal highlight for me is the Good Wizard, and while I don’t want to give too much away, let’s just say it recombines some old fairy tale assumptions in some pretty fun new ways.

I want to give a copy not only to every child I know but also to every adult I know who’s ever loved magic. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy ASAP!

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.