Rejected Princesses ~ BRC

Here we are on March 1st…my boys have just left on their band trip to California, and the weather here is less crisp spring, more balmy, sticky pre-summer.  Ugh.  Things are busy and my reading time is limited, so this month’s Book Review Club pick has been the perfect antidote to otherwise lost reading time.

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@Barrie Summy

rejectedprincessesRejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath started as a blog.  A DreamWorks animator, he spent his spare time browsing Wikipedia, feeding his curiosity for amazing women that had never made the history books.  When it became clear his coworkers had never heard of any of them, he used his enthusiasm and skills as an illustrator to tell their stories graphic novel style.  A book deal sprang out of those efforts, resulting in the substantial, royal purple tome that is currently sitting on my nightstand.  In the book, each princess has a page or two of text and a single full page illustration.

From Amazon:

Blending the iconoclastic feminism of The Notorious RBG and the confident irreverence of Go the F**ck to Sleep, a brazen and empowering illustrated collection that celebrates inspirational badass women throughout history, based on the popular Tumblr blog.

Well-behaved women seldom make history. Good thing these women are far from well behaved . . .

Illustrated in a contemporary animation style, Rejected Princesses turns the ubiquitous “pretty pink princess” stereotype portrayed in movies, and on endless toys, books, and tutus on its head, paying homage instead to an awesome collection of strong, fierce, and yes, sometimes weird, women: warrior queens, soldiers, villains, spies, revolutionaries, and more who refused to behave and meekly accept their place.

An entertaining mix of biography, imagery, and humor written in a fresh, young, and riotous voice, this thoroughly researched exploration salutes these awesome women drawn from both historical and fantastical realms, including real life, literature, mythology, and folklore. Each profile features an eye-catching image of both heroic and villainous women in command from across history and around the world, from a princess-cum-pirate in fifth century Denmark, to a rebel preacher in 1630s Boston, to a bloodthirsty Hungarian countess, and a former prostitute who commanded a fleet of more than 70,000 men on China’s seas.

The beauty of this book–beyond the fascinating tales, the funny, witty, conversational style, and the cleverly detailed illustrations–is that each “princess’s” story is only a couple of pages long.  This allows me to read five, or even ten, pages each night before bed and it’s always the perfect amount.  I could see this making a great book for bedtime reading with kids too. In a genius move, the stories are rated with a maturity level 1-5, and marked with flags if they contain violence, rape, sex, abuse, or self-harm (or any combination thereof), which makes steering clear of certain topics a cinch.  To put things in perspective, I’m only about a quarter of the way through the stories (there are a LOT), and I don’t think I’ve read a single one above maturity level 1 yet.

The author’s experience as an illustrator really shines.  He’s made a lot of thoughtful choices with regard to the elements included in the illustrations, and it isn’t difficult to imagine any of these stories potentially being made into an unexpected “princess” movie.  The first story includes art notes, outlining the choices for the illustration, and I loved reading those.  I admit to being a little disappointed that not all of the stories include these notes.  But, it’s a minor complaint of an otherwise impressive book.  The author also maintains a girl-power Tumblr, and a recent post indicates that he is in talks for a Rejected Princesses web or TV series.  That would be very cool indeed.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who thinks women are underrepresented in history books (ALL of us), anyone who likes a bit of humor with their history..ahem, folklore…ahem, mythology, and anyone who is impressed by an author thinking outside the box.

Be sure to click through for the rest of BRC’s reviews!

FCC: I purchased a copy of this book on the recommendation of Deanna Raybourn.


Posted in book review club on 03/01/2017 12:10 am


  1. How fun! Is this a coffee table style book?

    • Alyssa Goodnight

      I guess it could be. It has a lot of words for a coffee table book, but simply based on size and sturdiness, it’s totally on track. 😉

  2. Definitely sounds like an outside the box type of book, and in a good way. Thanks for the review!

  3. It is good to learn about a book that highlights the accomplishments of women. Many of the books I read are memoirs of women who have made lives for themselves and/or their families in remote areas. One book somewhat similar to this is a segment in the series Raincoast Chronicles called Lilies and Fireweed about Coastal British Columbia pioneer women. – Margy

    • Alyssa Goodnight

      Sounds interesting, Margy. I’m always in awe of stories of pioneer women. These days, we’re definitely spoiled.

  4. This sounds like a fabulous book! I think I might even want it in print instead of my usual e-book. Have to think about that.

    Thanks for the great review, Alyssa.

    • Alyssa Goodnight

      It’s nice to have the print copy, but its size makes it a bit of a struggle to read in bed. 😉

  5. I love the premise of this book! It would make an excellent resource for writers of historical fiction, looking for fresh stories. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Alyssa Goodnight

      I agree! Some truly unique historical fiction could spring out of these stories.

  6. I want this book! And Mother’s Days is too far off. I guess I’ll just have to buy it for myself. Sigh. Ha! Thanks for reviewing, Alyssa!

    • Alyssa Goodnight

      I’ve already been thinking about what I want for Mother’s Day too, Barrie. 😉 Great minds…

      (I think you’ll love this book!)

  7. And the illustrations are in color!!! (I’m hoping your security question is the most math I’ll have to do today!)

  8. How exciting! I love the Rejected Princess site and had no idea there was a book! I’m adding it to my TBR right now. Thanks for the great review!

    • Alyssa Goodnight

      I discovered the book first, then the site. Both so cool!

      P.S. I’m reading Security now, based solely on your review. Really enjoying it!

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