Valiant by Sarah McGuire
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Goodreads synopsis:A debut fairy tale retelling featuring a strong female character and a daring quest just right for fans of Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, and Gail Carson Levine.
Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he's always prized them more than he's ever loved her. Yet when he's struck ill, she'll do anything to survive, even donning boys' clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.
Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they're marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.
Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor's triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won't deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.
Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.
Valiant richly reimagines "The Brave Little Tailor," transforming it into a story of understanding, identity, and fighting to protect those you love most.
Valiant was inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Brave Little Tailor. However, the "brave tailor" in Sarah McGuire's retelling is actually a young girl named Saville and she isn't actually a tailor at all, but she does wholly deserve the "brave" title. Saville actually hates sewing because she sees it as her competition since her tailor father has always prized sewing and his profession over her.
As soon as I saw Gail Carson Levine mentioned in the synopsis, I wanted to read this. Gail Carson Levine was my favorite author as a child an I absolutely love all her work, so a YA novel with fairy tale elements that has a Gail Carson Levine feeling to it? Yes, please! As I read through Valiant, memories of Ella Enchanted, The Princess Tales, and Fairest came to mind. Although categorized as a YA novel, it has a bit of a middle grade touch to it, which I expected from the start so I was totally fine with it.
The lack of a love triangle was very refreshing and I like how the romance is more of a sub-plot than something that encompasses the entire story. The relationship also develops slowly and steadily and it felt real instead of rushed. I also really like how McGuire focuses more on Saville's platonic relationships; I thought her relationship with Will and the Giants did great for her character development. Overall, I have no complaints about any of the characters in terms of development (except maybe Leymonn, but he's just plain evil) and I thought they were all multi-dimensional. I love how King Eldin displays his other side towards the end and I really thought he redeemed himself just as he started to annoy me.
The only reason why I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is that it was a little bit slow in some parts and some parts were too detailed, like when Saville was describing the mountains near the cave (or something since I sort of skimmed over that part). But otherwise, I loved the plot, fairy tale elements, characters, and themes.
Valiant is a middle grade-esque young adult novel with a lot of meaningful themes that are great for children and young adults a like. I would recommend it to any fairy tale lover or anyone that wants a light, fun read.