If you're a girl and of a certain age, there's a huge possibility that you've read at least one Levine book. She was the fairytale lady (at least until Shannon Hale came around and made it into the fairytale pack). Maybe, like me, you might have read many of her books. Most people get into Ella Enchanted first. Me, Bamarre was my first Levine experience.
Two Princesses is a simple, straightforward story: there's a sickness across all the land, the Gray Death. The eponymous princesses are polar opposites. Meryl is strong, foolhardy, a fighter in every sense of the word; Addie is timid, cowardly, and delicate, preferring needlepoint to swordpoint. Meryl wants to quest to find the Gray Death's cure; Addie wants her to stay at home, where Meryl will be safe with her.
Meryl gets the Gray Death. Addie goes on Meryl's quest, armed with fabric, shoes, and flowers. Not even being facetious.
It's a wonderful, precious little story. There are dragons! There are elves who tell tales! There's an Beowulf-ish sort of hero/origin epic that impacts the story in amazing ways! There's an adorable wizard love interest! There's sister bonding! Suck it, Frozen. (Just kidding. I love Frozen. So sue me.)
Levine's particular style of writing for this story is dead-on. Addie's perspective is unique, real, and heartfelt, a far cry from the brashly artificial Strong Female Charactery(TM) kind of heroes that get all the street cred. She grows in courage for her sister, and yet never gives up the things that make her Addie. I love Addie. I also love Meryl, and Rhys the young adorable wizard love. I even love Vollys, the dragon.
And I love Drualt, that Beowulfy hero guy in the poem. That poem is great, too, by the way: Rise up, Bamarre! Go forth, Bamarre, the timid with the strong! I get goosebumps.
Quaint, precious, nearly perfect. If you ever need a good fairytale, read Two Princesses of Bamarre.