Wisdom’s Kiss: A Review

Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert MurdockPrincess Wisdom, known as Dizzy, does not much care for the staid and boring life of a princess. Tips does care much for the life a miller’s son with his brutish brothers in their small bucolic town. Fortitude, more often Trudy, could be perfectly content if only her foresight would let her.

When these three souls venture out to seek their fortunes their lives entwine in unexpected ways that could save the kingdom. Or bring it to ruins. With the help of a singular cat, Dizzy’s cunning grandmother, and just a tiny bit of magic everyone might get everything they never knew they always wanted in Wisdom’s Kiss (2011) by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Wisdom’s Kiss is an epistolary novel or sorts. Chapters alternate between play scenes, encyclopedia entries, excerpts from memoirs, diary entries and even letters (with cross-outs, misspellings and all).

Writing a novel in letters is a tricky thing. It offers the option to include many different writing styles as well as a variety of viewpoints. Sometimes it can also create a distance between the readers and the characters as the book  never, really, lets readers see the inner emotions of the characters. Such is the case here.

While Trudy and Ben were delightful characters with engaging storylines, it was very difficult to connect with Dizzy or Tips who are largely selfish and impulsive throughout the novel. Given the direction of the plot it was particularly frustrating to watch these two take the leading roles in the story. Other aspects of the book also seemed to enter the narrative far too late while also being abrupt–at which point Trudy really became the saving grace of the whole plot.

Wisdom’s Kiss is still a clever story with many fun twists on fairy tale characters (including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and a certain boot-wearing feline) that will appeal to fans of fractured fairytales and retellings alike.

Possible Pairings: Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock*, The Game of Triumphs by Laura Powell, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patrica C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde

*Wisdom’s Kiss is a companion/follow-up to Princess Ben. Dizzy’s grandmother in Wisdom’s Kiss is the protagonist of Princess Ben which is about Ben’s own youth.