A fairy tale romance with a plus sized heroine and plenty of dessert.
Princess Valeria of Amaranta is fat, but she doesn’t care. All she wants is to eat a lot and lead an idle life. When it is apparent that she cannot get a husband, her mother decides to send her to the Royal Riviera Academy of Fighting Arts. For a chubby princess who has never picked up a sword, life at the Academy is akin to torture. Worst of all, the food is terrible.
When Valeria decides to improve Riviera cuisine by sneaking into the palace kitchens and giving orders, little does she know that the crown prince would take interest in her kitchen excursions. As they spend more time together, Valeria must decide whether she should become thin and attractive, or stay in the kitchens and remain fat. – Goodreads
I recently read The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling and loved it—so I thought, hell, I’m going to give one of her earlier stories a shot.
Spoiler alert: I was disappointed (though not entirely).
I was very confused about my feelings regarding this book for the entirety of it’s short read (136 pages). I would literally go from being like, this isn’t so bad to god damn it, this is pissing me off.
The worldbuilding was fun—I could picture the palace and the land, as well as the warrior princesses and Academy.
I liked the MC well enough—she was confident in herself and didn’t give a sh*t about what the others thought about her weight. She couldn’t care less about her marriageability—especially if it meant sacrificing a cupcake.
But there was my biggest problem with the story: fat shaming and stereotyping. Oh, and absurdly descriptive passages about food. I think 70 pages of this mini-book were about food.
Back to the fat shaming and stereotyping.
When Valeria loses some weight:
“She was still plump, but no longer the small elephant that frightened away her suitors in the archery contest.”
Whenever she walks:
“Valeria waddled back to the trail,”
Every other page:
“Years of dessert-eating had made her sense of smell particularly acute, and she knew well when a dessert was ready.”
I stopped clipping on my Kindle after a while because I knew I would have too many. For one, we got the point after the first few pages that she was bigger than other girls. The entire book is constantly commenting on how fat and “fleshy” she is. Nevermind that she is a badass in the kitchen—it’s simply attributed to the fact that she’s always eating and of course she should be good in the kitchen.
Why can’t we have an overweight MC that doesn’t “waddle” and focus on how lazy she is? Maybe the story could, I don’t know, focus on her badass qualities and not make the fat thing the focal point? Just a thought.
Torn because I really hated the story but still love Aya Ling’s work. So, 2/5 for me—but I will definitely be reading more of Ling’s work.