Series Review: Beyond the Four Kingdoms by Melanie Cellier

Can you tell I have been hyper fixating on this author? This is the sequel series to The Four Kingdoms that following some of our familiar characters to explore new lands and expand relationships beyond the Four Kingdoms after a storm clears to reveal a pass into a heavily populated continent. The books are a companion series of fantasy retellings. Similar to the prequel series, we rotate through the kingdoms and young royalty as they go through their individual tale.

My Review: This series is highly magical and the fairy tales are much more quest based with romance thrown in to the stories. Still enjoyable, but a very different reading experience, especially by book 2. I think that the retellings were more inventive but I really missed how much relationship building and politics were present in the first series. This series was very romantic with high stakes. Personally, this was less my taste than the original series. On average this series was about 3.8 stars! If you have read this series, let me know what you thought!

Genre: Fantasy Romance that all focus on a general quest or curse.

The Books:

A Dance of Silver and Shadow (Twelve Dancing Princess)

A Tale of Beast and Beauty (Beauty and the Beast)

A Crown of Snow and Ice (Ice Queen)

A Dream of Ebony and White (Snow White)

A Captive of Wing and Feather (Swan Lake)

A Princess of Wind and Wave (Little Mermaid)

Favorite Retelling: One thing that I think was a bonus about this series was how inventive the retellings got. My personal favorite was Snow White or a Dream of Ebony and White. I don’t think I had ever experience a Snow White tale get this deep or political before. I liked how Snow White had to become a real political threat to the throne and a ruler in her own right. This was also the only retelling I have ever read that held the King accountable for some of the catastrophe that comes to kingdom and it was weirdly satisfying. The found family was a happy bonus.

Favorite Couple: Teddy and Isla (A Princess of Wind and Wave). This is my favorite version of a Little Mermaid couple I have experience so far. I like that they actively had to fall out of love with idea of each other and in love with the person they got to know. This was the couple that grew the most together throughout their story. Close second is Lily and Jonathan (A Dance of Silver and Shadow). They are so similar and dutiful. It lead to a fun back and forth of admiration and angst.

Favorite Kingdom: Eldon. I liked the more rigid and traditional kingdom more than I expected. Even though it ended up getting them more trapped in their curse than anything else I found the shift to be a nice change of pace.

Favorite Family: The Duchy of Marin (A Dance of Silver and Shadow). We didn’t spend as much time with them but the three sisters competed (and deserve a short story of their own) and the brother, Jonathan, is the featured love interest. The family is heavily featured as they are the ones who invited the Princesses from the Four Kingdoms to the new land. They are so sweet together and genuinely try to levy their roles as diplomat in every scene they are in.

Favorite Book: A Tale of Beast and Beauty. I think there was a great balance of the relationship and understanding the curse that was on the Kingdom of Palinar. There was a lot of misunderstanding when it came to the Beast (Dominic) and Sophie, but I loved how the relationship developed and that you got to see the type of rulers they would both be. Second place, A Dance of Silver and Shadow. I have loved Twelve Dancing Princess retellings since the Barbie Movie, but I thought the competition was a great introduction. I loved the balance between competition, getting to know a new land and new characters, and an incredibly tense romance.

Series Review: The Four Kingdoms by Melanie Cellier

This is a Young Adult (kinda) series that is centered around fairytale retellings. Each story is a different relationship and a new fairytale. The realm has four countries and we rotate through with each kingdom’s royal family and unique political problems. The stories focus around mystery and adventure with a touch of political intrigue. While they can be predictable, the stories were really fun and the romances were genuinely very sweet.

Genre: Light fantasy – There are a lot of magical references but none of our characters use magic. Young Adult – The romances are all fluff. The main characters tend to be late teens (at youngest 16) to early twenties, so it’s your call.

My review: The retelling elements are really clever and the references make me smile. The romances are based in trust and love. They also always involve members of the other’s family or their friends. Well the relationships tend to cross classes, there is consideration for class politics and identities before and during the romance. Because it is a series you can the political ramifications as well.

The Books

  1. The Princess Companion (Princess and the Pea)
  2. The Princess Fugitive (Red Riding Hood)
  3. Happily Ever Afters (Snow White and Rose Red – Novella)
  4. The Princess Pact (Rumpelstiltskin)
  5. A Midwinter’s Wedding (Princess and the Frog – Novella)
  6. he Princess Game (Sleeping Beauty)
  7. The Princess Search (The Ugly Duckling)

Favorite Retelling:

I thought The Princess Pact which was a Rumpelstiltskin retelling that actually made sense! Melanie Cellier flipped the deal Rumpelstiltskin made and it was so smart and made me really care about the families created.

Favorite Couple:

Ava and Hans from The Princess Fugitive. Honestly, princess and the guard is one of my favorite tropes, but I also love couples that make each other better.

Favorite Kingdom:

Lanover. This is a kingdom that the Princess Game and the Princess Search take place in. There is a huge variety of geographic location and culture that actually gets explored.

Favorite Family:

Arcadia (from The Princess Companion). I think we do spend the most time with this family but they are so genuinely welcoming and love spending time together. Lily and Sophia, twin princesses, are hilarious. The parents genuinely just care about Prince Max’s happiness.

Favorite Book:

The Princess Search. One I never expected an Ugly Duckling retelling to work so well or hit so hard. It was a great travel and mystery story. There is a lot of unpacking of past trauma and focus on valuing relationships and oneself. The romance was beautiful and such a slow burn.