The Escape of Princess Madeline

The Escape of Princess MadelineThe Escape of Princess Madeline is described by the author as a novella, although in print I think it would be at least comparable to a typical 10 chapter style book for younger readers. It tells the story of Princess Madeline who has to come to terms with the expectations of growing up as she reaches her 16th birthday.

Shocked that she’s expected to choose a husband at the ball from the suitors her father has chosen, Madeline instead runs away. She’s then kidnapped by thieves and hit on the head a lot, but she manages to rescue herself in the end. Meanwhile, Daniel—a young knight who feels a bond with Madeline—searches for the missing princess, having his own journey of self-discovery along the way.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid


More than anything, this is a story about family. Madeline has a twin brother, Braden, and their mother died when they were born. Their father isn’t handling the grieving process well, although he is trying. When he pressures Madeline to do her duty, she finds subtle ways to get back at him, like not wearing the new dress he had made for her betrothal ball. Their battle of wills takes place in public, in such a way that bystanders may not even notice. It seems like a lot would be solved if they just talked to each other, and in the end it seems that they finally do and that brings about the happy ending. Madeline’s brother means well, but he doesn’t understand why she’s so upset. He, too, starts to understand by the end, and helps their father see how he needs to approach Madeline.

Violence and Death

The book opens with the king’s nightmare about when his wife died. In 16 years, his grief hasn’t abated at all.

Madeline gets hit on the head. A lot. Hard enough to knock her out for a substantial period of time. Poor girl probably has a serious concussion. Later she hits Daniel hard enough to knock him out.

Madeline’s life is in danger from the thieves, and most of her attacks are described through emotions, sounds, and reactions rather than just stating what happens from a narrator’s point of view—this makes these scenes a bit more intense.

Madeline switches dresses with a peasant girl. Later, the stained and torn dress convinces the king that Madeline is dead. It’s not explicitly stated, but I wondered if the peasant girl died for switching dresses with Madeline.

The prince who hopes to win Madeline’s hand pretty brutally kills all the thieves. We hear about it when he tells the king, rather than experiencing it as readers.

When her father and Braden think Madeline is dead, the grief is sharply felt.


Madeline seems totally surprised by the fact that her father expects her to get married. I would have sympathy for this, except that everyone else in the kingdom doesn’t seem surprised, including Madeline’s best friend and Braden. I don’t blame Madeline for feeling trapped and wanting some say in her future, but her shock seemed to boil down to, “Well, I know that I’ve been brought up for 16 years to make a good marriage and that it would happen when I turned 16, but I didn’t really think anyone was serious!”

In the end, Madeline comes back on her own. She’s ready to take her role as princess and future queen, but she wants to talk about it with her father so she can do some of it on her own terms. I appreciated that they reached a compromise—that seems like an unusual conclusion for many stories.

Sophia, Madeline’s best friend and Braden’s girlfriend, is well aware of duty. She knows that even though she loves Braden, his duty is to marry someone of higher status. She’ll end up marrying whoever her parents choose for her. She envies the choices that Madeline has and really doesn’t understand where the shock and the whining are coming from.


I worry for Sophia. She and Braden seem quite fond of each other, but she knows there’s no future in it because he will need to marry well, and that means not her. I’ve watched enough costume dramas to fear that she’s damaging her reputation beyond repair by being involved with Braden even though he’ll have to set her aside. This issue is left unresolved at the end of the story.

Daniel is a knight, and therefore unworthy of marrying Madeline. But he feels a bond with her and would be willing to die for her. He searches on his own, even after everyone else thinks she’s dead. In the end, they do end up together as part of the compromise Madeline makes with her father. She chooses Daniel.


Daniel’s adoration of Madeline at some point morphs into romantic love. She falls in love with him, too. There’s some very mild kissing. Sophia and Braden are affectionate with each other, although anything we see is G rated—you could read a bit between the lines if you wanted, but there’s nothing explicit. The king obviously loved his wife very much, to the point of making some bad decisions after her death.


There’s a subplot of wizards who were cast out of the kingdom when the queen died. They’ve been biding their time until they can return, and it’s obvious that Daniel and Madeline have a role in their plans (and probably Braden, too). Daniel goes on a bit of a spiritual quest at their urging and it helps him find Madeline. I don’t think they’re evil—I think we’re supposed to be rooting for them—but it’s just hinted at in this book. I’m guessing there are more stories to tell in this world.


The thieves drink a good bit—the whole place smells of stale ale and at least a few of them seem to have drunk themselves into a stupor.


Stories of compromise—where the ending can only be reached by several people growing, changing, and giving a bit—aren’t particularly common, so the book is interesting on that level. If you’re always on the lookout for age appropriate princess stories for your 8-10 year old, consider checking this one out.

I never quite identified with Madeline because I didn’t understand how she was so clueless about what was expected of her, but the subplots about the exiled wizards suggest that there are interesting stories yet to come in this setting. And I’d like to know how things turn out for Sophia.

Disclaimer: The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirstin Pulioff
Published in 2012 by Malachite Quills Publishing
Read a PDF supplied by the author


  1. This sounds interesting! I was surprised that you placed it in the 8-10 age group when the character is 16. It sounds more like a more innocent YA to me – which I don’t think there are enough of.

    • ayvalentine says:

      The plot is simple enough that I thought it may not really engage an older reader as much, and any princess that’s engaged at the end of the story had better be at least 16! 🙂 But you have a good point about innocent YA. Dark and edgy is kind of a hallmark of YA, but not every older reader wants that.

      • I also just had the thought that there are probably some little girls who *want* to read about romance but aren’t old enough to read YA, so it’s good to have something for them too!

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