At sixteen the Princess Adrienne is locked in a tower, guarded by a dragon. She is supposed to wait there until a worthy prince is able to rescue her and claim her hand in marriage, but when she finds a sword hidden in the tower Adrienne and the dragon join forces to try and rescue her other sisters who are similarly imprisoned. They are joined along the way by Bedelia Smith, the blacksmith's daughter who makes Adrienne some armour that actually fits.
This is not the first time the self rescuing princess thing has been done, but it's done well here. The book is clearly aimed mainly at younger readers and the writing is a little simplistic and clunky at times, but I'm hoping that will improve as it goes on. What it lacks in writing style it definitely makes up for in charm. Adrienne is a fun, sassy heroine little girls can look up to, and who doesn't want their own pet dragon? Also, though I am probably about ten years too old to convincingly pull it off, I now really want to cosplay as Bedelia Smith. I just need to build myself a ridiculously big hammer...
Another thing I really liked about this book is that while the main focus is on Adrienne and Bedelia it also shows the negative effect rigid enforcing of gender roles can have on boys too. This is exemplified by Adrienne's gentle brother Devin, deemed to weak to rule because he isn't good with a sword, and Prince Wilcome, who never wanted to get into the damsel rescuing business. It also makes a nice change to see a young woman of colour in the limelight.
The art shows a lot of personality, and Sparky the dragon, in particular, is adorable. It's nice to see some female heroes who are fully clothed (except when trying on women warrior outfits or accidentally hanging upside down underneath a dragon while not wearing a belt).
Princeless is a charming, tale that would appeal to younger readers and many adults too. It makes a refreshing change from Disney style princesses. I will definitely be picking up the next volume, as well as the third one which I hear also has pirates.