A year has passed since Christian rediscovered his identity as prince of Zandelphia, married Marigold, the princess he “met” by observing her through his telescope and corresponding via p-mail (carrier pigeon), and ascended the throne. The evil Queen Olympia, having fallen from the castle terrace into the river and disappeared, has become like a bad memory. However, things are not “happily ever after” in the adjoining kingdoms of Beaurivage and Zandelphia as this sequel to Once Upon a Marigold opens: there is a rumor that Olympia turned up in a village far downstream with no memory of how she got there or who she was, but that now her amnesia is gone; for a solid week, the weather was rainy and dreary; everyone (including the royal dogs) is tense, glum, and dissatisfied; and even King Christian and Queen Marigold are bickering with each other.
Unfortunately, the rumors are true: for a year, Olympia has lived in a distant village, unable to remember even her name. However, when the queen’s memory suddenly returns, she wastes no time in returning to the palace. Once she arrives (to the shock and dismay of everyone from King Swithbert on down), Olympia sets in motion her scheme to become the sole ruler of the kingdom. When the king and Edric the cliché-mangling troll (“I’ve got to cut to the cheese with Wendolyn, even if I do it like a bowl in a china shop”) plot to thwart her, the queen proves a ruthless and dangerous foe. Christian and Marigold must use all their ingenuity and a little help from an unusual wizard, a perceptive elephant, and an enchanting assortment of characters if they are to defeat the evil monarch and restore harmony to the kingdom. The author’s entertaining use of anachronisms continues in this sequel, and Marigold has found a new type of humor to inflict on everyone within earshot: knock-knock jokes. The novel does not readily stand alone, so anyone who hasn’t yet read Once Upon a Marigold should run, not walk, to do so before enjoying this exceptional fantasy. 297 pages. Ages 10-14 Recommended by Barbara Karp, Librarian.