Elianna Bernstein is the kind of character who can speak to many book lovers — she’s the bibliophile princess. Her family is a long line of readers, and she’s no exception. She’s engaged to Prince Christopher, though she doesn’t understand why he’s interested in someone like her, and expects him to break off the engagement and pick someone more appropriate.
Bibliophile Princess started out as a series of light novels, of which this is the first. It later received a manga adaptation as well. The first novel is set in three sections: “Bibliophile Princess,” “The Men Behind the Stage,” and “Her and Her Prince’s Treasure.”
In “Bibliophile Princess,” Elianna frets that Prince Christopher will dump her and acknowledges her feelings for him. She is also accused of multiple horrible things she didn’t do, and she and others will have to prove her innocence.
“The Men Behind the Stage” switches the narration from Elianna to Lord Alexei, a relative of Prince Christopher. It’s mainly about his awe of Eli and how she uses her booksmarts to save the day in different situations.
“Her and Her Prince’s Treasure” has Elianna and Prince Christopher going to a special book market that’s only available every three years. This time around Elianna’s Bernstein family is accused of something they didn’t do, a boy appears and claims that Christopher is his father, and Elianna gets wind that someone is planning to burn books. Obviously this bookworm is not about to let any book burning happen.
The story takes place in a European style made-up kingdom. Details about the kingdom come as needed, but so far there’s no deep history or mythology of the place. Mostly it’s light, escapist reading about a princess who loves books and finds ways to use them. Sometimes the writing gets repetitive (we are told, for example, quite a few times how her nickname is the Bibliophile Princess), and the writing can sound a bit unpolished at parts, like a newer writer. But it also gets across the different personalities of the characters. Christopher is calm, sweet and likable, and his background with Elianna is gradually revealed. Elianna is a book lover’s ideal, because Christopher promises her that even if she is a princess, he won’t get in the way of her reading. Elianna is very relatable as a bookworm to other bookworms, and it’s fun to see a bibliophile be the hero of a book this time around as opposed to someone a little more action-oriented. Bibliophile Princess is a sweet, easy read with lovely shojo-style illustrations.
Art: Satsuki Sheena
Publisher: J-Novel Club
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.