The Princess in Black

The Princess in Black is a cute chapter book for new readers. It’s the first book in a series about Princess Magnolia whose secret identity is a monster fighting princess in black. But a princess doesn’t wear black, so this is the perfect disguise! It’s basically a superhero story with princesses and unicorns.

This sweet little tale is about defying expectations and going beyond the cubbyholes people put you into. The Princess in Black inspires a goat boy to become a Goat Avenger because no one expects a goat boy to fight monsters.

The colorful illustrations are very cute and add a lot to the story, which also helps give context for new readers to parse the words.

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

You Don’t Have to Choose

While Princess Magnolia and the goat boy feel constrained by their roles in life, neither of them turns their back on those roles. Princess Magnolia seems to embrace being a princess in fluffy pink dresses, but when she needs to show another side, she embraces that too. In both cases, she still wears a sparkly tiara—she may trade in pink skirts for black pants, but she still loves her tiara.

The goat boy still cares for his goats—he doesn’t resent them or wish he could stop being a goat boy. He just wants to be more as well, like the Princess in Black.


Of course Princess Magnolia has to keep her double life a secret, because it’s that kind of story. The Goat Avenger faces a similar future. As the story takes place, Princess Magnolia lies to Duchess Wigtower who is visiting with the express purpose of finding out the princess’ secrets. The Princess in Black is summoned, so Duchess Wigtower is left alone and promptly starts snooping around the palace.

The goat boy suspects that Princess Magnolia and the Princess in Black are the same person, but instead of thinking that this is a secret he can hold over her, he’s inspired to form his own superhero monster fighting identity.


The monsters are cute rather than scary. I felt sorry for the one the Princess in Black fought in this story, because it was hungry and the bigger monsters ate all the food. It knew it shouldn’t go up into the goat meadow, but it couldn’t remember why and it was so hungry. They did have a major battle, but when the Princess in Black couldn’t roll it into the hole to go back underground, she asked it nicely and it complied. The monster never did get fed (although it ate the rope it was tied up with, but that didn’t seem to help much) and I continued to feel sorry for it. Soft hearted kids may feel sad!


The princess and the goat boy both have chubby faces with a bit of a double chin. The illustrations are all a bit exaggerated, but no one is exaggeratedly skinny. The goat boy has darker skin and brown hair.


The Princess in Black is a cute chapter book for beginning readers that is less cloying and has a little more substance than many. I tend to like Shannon Hale’s books and would expect the rest of the series to follow in the same vein.

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Published in 2015 by Scholastic
First in a series
Read my personal copy

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