The Princess in Black, Shannon Hale's fifteenth book (with Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham), debuted late 2014. It centers on Princess Magnolia, the royal vigilante who wears black.
Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret?
Shannon Hale says on the conception of The Princess in Black: "When she was four years old, my daughter Maggie (aka Magnolia) was examining her favorite article of clothing: a multicolored, butterfly-covered skort, the kind of thing that makes her feel pretty and princessy while still allowing her tumble about with ease.She pointed to each of the butterfly colors. 'Pink is a girl color,' she said. 'And purple, and yellow. But not black.'
'Girls can wear black,' I said. 'I wear black all the time.' She looked at me as if to say, you're not a girl, you're a mama.
'Well, what about Batgirl?' I said, sure I'd won the argument.
Maggie said, 'Mama, princesses don't wear black.'
It was like being struck by lightning.
All day I couldn't stop thinking about a princess who did wear black. I took inspiration from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She'd be a seemingly typical princess with a secret. She'd secretly be a superhero, working hard to keep her kingdom free of monsters. And like Superman needs Clark Kent, the Princess in Black would maintain a secret identity. To all the world, she is Princess Magnolia. But when trouble calls, she sheds her fluffy dresses and glass slippers, dons a black mask, leaps onto her valiant pony, and rides off to save the day!
I pulled my husband Dean into writing it with me, because he's awesome. And funny. And clever. And I like working with him. And there would be monsters, so he'd have insight to offer, being of their own kind. LeUyen Pham agreed to lend her bedazzling illustration sorcery to the project, Candlewick published it with aplomb, and the result is something I love dearly. "