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Cam's Quest: Dian Curtis Regan

Cam's Quest is the sequel to Dian Curtis Regan's Princess Nevermore (a middle grade fantasy title that I reviewed last week). Cam's Quest follows Princess Quinn, aka Princess Nevermore, and Cam, the former Wizard's Apprentice, as they each seek their destiny. Quinn and Cam have both been raised in the underground kingdom of Mandria, one in which both magical and Medieval customs dominate.

Quinn, in particular, is bound by custom and expectation. As the story begins, she is under considerable pressure to select a suitor, because she must wed on her 16th birthday. She struggles mightily with the decision, and eventually flees the kingdom. Meanwhile Cam, who has been in love with Quinn since childhood, ventures into the aboveground world to learn more about his own mysterious background. Alternating chapters follow the two teens on their respective adventures. The alternating narrative format, replete with cliffhangers, is sure to keep fans turning the pages.

As with the previous book, my favorite parts were those in which a person from a different world (Cam), is baffled by aspects of our own, modern-day society. Here's an example, in which Cam watches a young woman named Sarah with her baby, Hannah:

Sarah placed Hannah in a strange contraption that held her captive on all four sides, so she could not crawl more than a few knee-lengths in any direction. Hannah immediately wailed, wanting out. Cam did not blame her. (Chapter 14)

I think what I like about this is the fresh perspective on ordinary objects and behaviors. Shaking hands seems odd to Cam, and he initially shakes left to right, instead of up and down. Why do we shake hands up and down? Why do we shake hands at all? I would have liked to see more of this Mandra/real world juxtaposition in this installment, but alas, Cam's visit to the upper world is relatively brief.

I also like Quinn. She's a strong female character, one who pushes against the limitations of her existence. She's occasionally autocratic, but this feels realistic, given that she's been raised as a Princess. She also craves human contact (Princesses are not supposed to be touched in Mandria). Here's an example of Quinn's thoughts, as she prepares for her friend's wedding:

After tonight, there would be a respite from her royal obligation to smile, say polite things, and most of all, try to develop a fondness for one lad or another. They all seemed to blur into a hazy line of eager bumbleness. Eager dull bumbleness, she thought, recalling the sameness of the questions asked by the noble lads (Chapter 6)

I love the phrase "eager bumbleness". It's both descriptive and poetic.

Fans of the previous book are sure to find this sequel (and apparent conclusion) satisfying. There are no major surprises, but the story is well-written and engaging. Cam and Quinn both show themselves to be brave and loyal, surmounting the obstacles in their path and achieving triumph.

Book: Cam's Quest (sequel to Princess Nevermore)
Author: Dian Curtis Regan
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Original Publication Date: December 2006
Pages: 352
Age Range: 10-14
Source of Book: A review copy from Raab Associates
Other Blog Reviews and Mentions: See the Princess Nevermore fansite.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.