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Title – The Fairly Ordinary Princess

Author – Khushboo Shah

Type – Fiction / Fantasy

Reading Prompt – #17 – A book dealing with high/low fantasy

For centuries, we have allowed outer beauty to define our worth. However, it comes with a baggage of insurmountable expectations. Princesses must be breathtakingly beautiful, with golden tresses cascading down their slender shoulders. Khushboo Shah steers clear of such stereotypes and weaves an extraordinary tale of a fairly ordinary princess

The princess of Karoda, Nirzari, is a bespectacled bookworm with an acne-ridden skin. Her nose is flat, and a double chin lines her jawline. In a nutshell, she is ordinary. However, her quest for answers leads her down a book-hole, where she meets her grandmother Aaloka. Together, they race against time (and a purple bookmark) to supply rainbows, a thickening agent, and other assorted items, before Nirzari gets her freedom.

Khushboo has scattered life lessons all round her debut book. 

Sample this – Sometimes after your eyes have rained, you find a rainbow in your heart. 

I loved the episode of the chessboard with Light and Shadow as opponents, as well as that of the lens of perception. In a simple, yet relatable language, the author asks us to look at ourselves without scorn or disdain.

My only grouse was that the word count of the novella limited Khushboo’s amazing storytelling ability. I would have loved to know more about Amarjeet, Dabbu and his mammy. And Firki, the adorable spider, needs either a spoof, or an entire subplot dedicated to her. 

Readers should grab this book and travel with Princess Nirzari and her poetry-spouting parrot Jawab-e-Hazir on a path to find their worth in a society riddled with unattainable norms. I wish Khushboo Shah all the best in her future endeavours.

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