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The Princess Revolt

Book #1 of Unraveled Series

About The Book

Disney’s Twisted Tales meets the Half Upon a Time trilogy in this “lively” (School Library Journal) first book of a new fantasy series following a young girl who discovers that fairy tale characters are real when she becomes the target of vindictive princesses who want their Happily Ever Afters.

Cia Anderson hasn’t slept in ten days, but she doesn’t feel one bit tired. She knows that something is up, even if no one but her best friend believes her. Hundreds of pairs of shoes have appeared in her locker, small woodland animals are trailing her, and the only boy she’s ever had a crush on has been quarantined with a mysterious illness. There’s even talk of closing her middle school.

Something strange is going on.

Cia discovers that she has accidentally upset some fairy tale characters who are trying to find their happily ever afters in the modern world. Desperate to set things right, Cia enlists the help of Cinderella’s stepsister, gets kidnapped by Snow White’s dwarves, and makes a deal that she might regret with the Evil Queen—all while trying to stay one step ahead of the furious princesses who want her dead.

Turns out there’s nothing meaner than a fairy tale character who can’t find her prince charming.


Chapter 1 Chapter 1

I don’t mean I’d tossed and turned in bed and had difficulty falling, or staying, asleep.

I had not slept. At all.

I’d been awake for the past two hundred and sixty-four hours. I’d read on the American Pediatric Association website—not a site that I would usually visit, but when you’re awake at three a.m., these are the things you find yourself doing—that the recommended amount of sleep for thirteen-year-olds is between eight and ten hours a night. As a thirteen-year-old girl who had gotten no sleep for two hundred and sixty-four hours, I had found this information quite disturbing.

The thing was, though, that I felt absolutely fine. I’d been to enough sleepovers to know what the day after not getting enough sleep was supposed to feel like, and I didn’t feel that way. I didn’t feel grumpy or sluggish or even the tiniest bit tired. I hadn’t as much as yawned in the past ten days. If anything, I felt more awake than usual. In the past few nights, I had:
  • Reread all the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books.
  • Checked and rechecked all my homework.
  • Finished a paper on the digestive system that wasn’t due until the end of the semester.
  • Reorganized the clothes in my closet by type, then material, then color, then back to type.
  • Watched eight seasons of Friends and most of Gilmore Girls.
  • Taught myself how to moonwalk.
  • Tried—and failed—to teach myself how to apply eyeliner.
  • Learned how to French, fish tail, and Dutch braid my hair.

You can get a lot done between the hours of ten p.m. and seven a.m. when no one is telling you to get off the internet (my parents) or trying to get you to watch funny cat videos (my little brother, Riley).

Based off a quick How long can a person stay awake? Google search, I’d learned that I was now just a few hours away from breaking the record, which was set by a high school student named Randy Gardner, who, in 1964, in a total last-minute, let’s-get-out-of-homework move, decided that going without sleep would be his science fair entry.

Things didn’t work out so well for Randy. After four days without sleep, he couldn’t remember how to play chess, and by day six, snakes and ladders was too difficult for him. Ever since I’d read about Randy’s board game wipeout, I’d been challenging my dad to a chess match every night. And every evening I’d beaten him. Although this—and my shockingly good grades—made me worry less about the state of my brain, I wasn’t so sure about the rest of me. So, I’d insisted that Dad, who didn’t believe me and thought I was just experiencing long and hyperrealistic dreams, take me to the doctor.

I was scheduled to meet with Dr. Loomis before school in the morning. I glanced at my phone. It was five a.m. In just a few hours I’d be talking to someone who’d have answers about what was happening to me. Finally. Other than finding out about the recommended sleep cycles of teens, the internet had been useless. I’d spent tens of hours online reading about all the things that were not happening to me, like not being as smart as usual (see Randy Gardner’s chess playing) and bone-crushing tiredness.

The only person I told besides Dad was my best friend, Romy, who went straight to the Dracula option. Mom was halfway across the world on a tiny island that had no cell service, so I couldn’t tell her about what was going on. And even if Mom had been here, I wasn’t sure I’d tell her anything. Mom overreacted about things—well, maybe not things, but she overreacted about me—and I was afraid of what she’d say and do if I told her that I no longer needed to sleep. Dad’s reaction was understandable, though—I did look absolutely fine (same medium-length curly brown hair, same palish skin with a smatter of freckles, and same hazel eyes), and my chess playing was outstanding. I’d won every game. Romy believed me straightaway because, as she said, why would I make something like this up? We had discussed the Dracula possibility during a sleepover at her house—that’s the kind of friend Romy is; she suspected I might be a vampire, and she still let me share her bedroom—and then ruled it out. I hadn’t developed any strange, bloody cravings, and I didn’t sleep at all, unlike vampires who sleep during the day and roam about at night looking for necks to bite.

I was sure Dr. Loomis wouldn’t want to chat about bloodsucking creatures. She was a doctor. She’d have to know why I had stopped needing to sleep, and she’d have answers. I had just a few more hours to wait until I found out why I, unlike every human being on the planet—according to the American Sleep Association—was able to function normally without any sleep.

A noise from Riley’s room made me poke my head in—I sort of hoped he was awake; it got boring sometimes, just hanging out on my own hour after hour, night after night—but he was fast asleep. He must have been dreaming. I sat down on the comfy chair beside his bed and listened to the sounds coming from the street below. We lived in Brooklyn, so even in the deepest, darkest part of the night, there were noises outside: car doors closing, the hum of garbage trucks, and distant sounds of ambulances and fire sirens.

Riley let out a little burble of laughter and kicked his legs, throwing the covers off. I reached over and put the comforter back on top of him. His head was resting on his favorite book, The Big Book of Outrageous Facts. He wasn’t able to read most of it, but it didn’t stop him from quoting it all the time. Just before he’d gone to bed, he’d told me that he’d read there were more saunas than cars in Finland. (I didn’t think Riley even knew what a sauna was.) I gently pulled it out from under his head and put it on the bedside table. I noticed that the light coming in from outside the bedroom window was changing from dark to hazy gray. It was almost morning.

I went back to my room and opened my closet, where I saw a T-shirt that Mom had given me a couple of weeks ago. It said, I AM SMART! I AM STRONG! I CAN DO ANYTHING! (It was ridiculous-looking, but not as bad as the “surprise” Mom had put in my room just before she left for her trip. I was still mad about that.) For a fraction of a second I wondered what John Lee, the boy I liked, would think of it. Could this T-shirt be the conversation opener I’d been looking for? No, definitely not. I’d be better off wearing Riley’s Captain Underpants pajamas to school.

I pushed the T-shirt aside and picked out a pale yellow top and jeans. Then I walked downstairs and headed into the kitchen to make breakfast. I was just about ready to flip my French toast when I heard the old floorboards upstairs creaking, letting me know that my dad had gotten out of bed.

I had broken a world record. My twelfth day without sleep had begun.

About The Author

Maeve Kadyan

Cathy O’Neill was one of those kids who opened every wardrobe expecting to find Narnia. Years later, her own kids brought make-believe games and fairy tales back into her life and, with them, the inspiration for the Unraveled series, which includes The Princess Revolt and The Tapestry of Tales. Cathy grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and now lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and four daughters. She is a coauthor of the bestselling self-help book Babyproofing Your Marriage.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin (March 29, 2022)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534497740
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 780L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ Y These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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Raves and Reviews

This hits the ground running with a fascinating mystery: 13-year-old Cia hasn't slept in 11 days. After some strange happenings and an unsuccessful visit with a pediatrician, Cia looks to the boxes in her attic to search for clues and finds the information of a fortune teller. Cia learns that the person who once helped her with some baby insomnia also slipped her a little anti-princess spell, which is now manifesting in all sorts of magical princess aftereffects: A boy turns into a beast. Cia suddenly has a phenomenal singing voice. Woodland animals attack her on sight. The unpredictability of these side effects make this a fun page-turner, even as the plot takes its time to develop the mystery. It isn't until about halfway through that major discoveries are revealed and readers can begin to guess what might happen next. What would a princess do for her Happily Ever After? Any reader who loves magical adventures and references to classic fairy tales will not want to miss this one.

— Kristina Pino

– Booklist, 2/15/22

Gr 4-7–When 13-year-old Cia finds herself no longer needing to sleep, her best friend, Indian American Romy, theorizes that pale-skinned Cia is a vampire. But Cia seeks a better solution and tracks down Madam ­Fredepia, fortune teller and sleep whisperer. To her astonishment, Cia learns Madam Fredepia placed a fairy-tale counter spell on her when she was an infant. Cia’s mother wanted her baby girl to grow up strong and independent, not like a fairy-tale princess. Now all the familiar fairy-tale elements are backfiring on Cia: she is being stalked by a deer, her school locker is full of shoes, and she is losing her hair. After her crush turns into a beast, Cia becomes desperate to break the spell before her friends are injured and a league of irate princesses take her down in order to restore their perpetual Happily Ever Afters. This original spin on modern fairy tales stands out for its delightful voice. Cia’s first-person narration, by turns insightful, intelligent and snarky, keeps readers engaged and giggling. However, the story also prompts readers to consider the downside of beloved fairy tales. Do they promote unrealistic standards of beauty? Do they discourage ­self-reliance in girls? Are they racist? O’Neill leaves readers with enough questions to begin critically examining the tales as old as time while keeping the magic intact. ­VERDICT Readers will be captivated by Cia’s lively voice while discovering that they may wish to view fairy tales through an updated lens. A solid purchase for middle grade collections where fantasy is appreciated.–Nancy Nadig

– School Library Journal, 4/1/22

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More books from this author: Cathy O'Neill

More books in this series: Unraveled Series