Review: EXTRAORDINARY: A STORY OF AN ORDINARY PRINCESS
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Cassie Anderson
Artist: Cassie Anderson
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess: While her sisters were blessed at birth with exceptional skills, Princess Basil’s ”gift” is to be ordinary.
After escaping an unconventional kidnapping, Princess Basil finds herself far from her castle and must take fate into her own hands. She tracks down the fairy godmother who ”blessed” her, and finds the solution to her ordinariness might be as simple as finding a magic ring. With an unlikely ally in tow, she takes on gnomes, a badger, and a couple of snarky foxes in her quest for a less ordinary life.
Extraordinary is a delightful example of a fairy tale that subverts the classic tropes of the genre. It has all the trappings of a Disney-style princess story, but with a with a somewhat more nuanced storyline.
All of Princess Basil’s sisters have been blessed by fairies to have a specific gift or skill: beauty, wisdom, humour, dancing, singing, and cooking. However, when Basil was born, the only fairy available was grumpy old Melvina, who gave her the gift of being ordinary.
Basil and her family believed this to be a curse, but Extraordinary is the story of how Basil comes to discover that it truly was a blessing. The various gifts that made her sisters special came to define them. The gifts defined who they were and determined the path their lives would take. But by having no defining trait or skill, Basil could forge her own path. The moral of the story is that Basil’s gift was the freedom to determine her own identity.
I like the amusing clash of fairy tale tropes and modern sensibilities evident throughout the story. For example, Basil’s mother decides that if Basil were kidnapped by a dragon, a prince would come to rescue her, and they would fall in love. So the Queen hires a dragon to abduct her.
And when Hudson, a supposed dragonslayer, comes to rescue her, he finds that Basil has already escaped the dragon on her own, with no need to be saved. Instead they become travelling companions and friends. Basil is fully self-sufficient and doesn’t need a man to protect her. There are times where Hudson does save her from danger, but she does the same for him.
In a typical fairy tale, you would expect a romance would develop, but there is never any hint of that. Although their friendship deepens over the course of the story, there is no hint of anything beyond friendship. Basil’s love life is mostly irrelevant to her story of self-discovery.
Eventually, the defining trait Basil develops is courage, which she discovers by slaying the dragon Mordrid, saving her parents’ kingdom. This leads her to set out on a life of adventuring with Hudson. This is a fine place to end a fairy tale, with a threat overcome, a lesson learned and a hint of future adventures to come.
The art is perfectly suited for the a story told in the form of a fairy tale. It’s bright, colourful, and has a bit of a cartoony stylization. The simple but graceful art adds to the timeless quality of the tale.
The only negative is that it seems that the saga of Basil and Hudson has ended – at least for now. Cassie Anderson has stated that she has no current plans to continue the story, but isn’t ruling out the possibility of returning to the characters at some future point. It’s disappointing that this isn’t an ongoing series, but at least it ends with a logical conclusion.
Extraordinary: A Story of an Ordinary Princess is a charming fairy tale with a moral that is in line with modern sensibilities. Readers of all ages will find this story endearing. It would especially be an ideal book for young girls, as it features a female lead character that serves as a positive role model. But boys will like it too.