The Sparrow Princess

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
122 Pages
Reviewed on 01/03/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Russell Whitehead is an author and illustrator of books for children and middle grade readers, a puppet builder and puppeteer. Russell resides in Griffin, Georgia with his wife Deb and their dog Dylan. When he's not in the studio honing his craft, he enjoys spending time with family and entertaining grandchildren. He blogs about children's and middle grade books as well as various writing and puppetry projects he's working on.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

The Sparrow Princess by Russell Whitehead - with interior illustrations by Laura DuBose - is a fairytale-style fantasy geared toward the middle grade/young adult audience. This tantalizing tale begins simply with a young child princess losing her mother and her father, the Queen and King, yet the story is compelling and engaging right from the start, especially due to some amazingly unique and creative plotting with just the right twists and turns to pull any curious reader in, young or not. When time and circumstances prevail that transform the princess from an older teen into a sparrow, the interest hook has been well set. But when a council of animals reveals the historical incidents leading to this strange transformation, one begins truly to appreciate what a complex and fascinating tapestry of storytelling has here been woven. That is, things get really good.

In The Sparrow Princess, Russell Whitehead maintains a precisely consistent voice geared to his young audience, but the artistry of his plotting will also satisfy the adult reader. One must also give admiring kudos to Laura DuBose for her understated but perfectly complementary drawings used to illustrate and augment this lovely tale. Whitehead treats fate and karma and destiny as active weavers involved in a morally-dependent creation, lending a deterministic but appealing relief to otherwise implausible coincidences. One begins to suspect, however, that this might very well be the point of this well-told story that ends with a message of reunion, redemption, and that most appealing story element of all: true love.

Jack Magnus

The Sparrow Princess is an epic fantasy novel written by Russell Whitehead and illustrated by Laura DuBose. It was September, the time for romance and true love, and King Aaric knew exactly where he was going. There was a small cottage in the Northern Forest that was surrounded by shrubs and aromatic herbs. He knocked on the front door and felt his heartbeat race as he heard the sound of footsteps. The door opened, and he saw her there. Aliyah was the one he had dreamed of; she was his queen. While Aliyah was more interested in true love than Aaric's obvious youthful good looks and trappings indicating wealth, there was something about him that caught at her heart. She was taken by his sincerity and the sense that here, kneeling before her, was the man she was destined to follow. The two traveled on his horse back to his castle, and their marriage festivities were celebrated by the residents of the city of Calandra. Soon thereafter, they had a child. Alenah was their delight and joy, and, when she was to turn four years old, they planned a birthday celebration with invitations sent to every inhabitant of the city. On the morning of the festivities, however, the family had vanished. The king's brother, Colin, sent men out to scour the countryside looking for them, but they came back empty-handed.

Russell Whitehead's epic fantasy, The Sparrow Princess, is a magical tale of true love, evil incantations and the power of redemption. Whitehead incorporates elements of Arthurian fantasy in his story, wherein a queen is imprisoned in a willow tree and a tragic mishap causes no end of misery in the kingdom. Alenah's coming of age is a marvelous one. Her transmutation into a sparrow is enchanting, and her acceptance of her quest to find her parents is a welcome change from the traditional gender specific roles often found in fairy tales and epic fantasy. Laura DuBose's graphic illustrations are superb and perfectly reflect the mood of the story. I especially enjoyed her nature and animal drawings as well as the detailed panel depicting a young Ernestyna gathering herbs in the woods with her collie by her side. The Sparrow Princess is most highly recommended for adult and young adult fans of epic fantasy.

Romuald Dzemo

The Sparrow Princess by Russell Whitehead is an epic fantasy with a powerful plot and very strong characters, a tale with great themes, including love, jealousy, intrigue, and revenge. Alenah is a character that will evoke all kinds of feelings from readers. From the very beginning of the story, readers are introduced to very dramatic moments. For instance, during her fourth birthday party, a party to which the entire kingdom is invited, something dramatic happens: “However, the candles were never lit. The cake was never cut. When all the guests arrived, they were told that the King and Queen, as well as Princess Alenah, had mysteriously disappeared.”

Russell Whitehead’s writing is beautiful and the story is well-edited and masterfully told, the kind of writing one doesn’t expect from a self-published work. The author has done a wonderful job in creating very strong and complex characters, introducing readers to an intricate plot with surprises. I love when an author does more of showing than telling in the story, but it is interesting to see how Whitehead does the telling without making his storytelling sound weak. He writes with confidence and possesses the rare gift of weaving important themes into the plot. As one reads the story, one can’t help but see how the author explores the humanity of the characters, and these characters are so real that many readers will sympathize with them. The Sparrow Princess is a story that will hugely entertain readers, but it also has many meaningful lessons for life.