While not without its charms or enjoyability, Princess of the Silver Woods doesn't quite live up to Princess of the Midnight Ball. It's the sort of book you need to be in a certain mood for. If you're looking for one with depth and complexity in the characters and villains, this is most definitely not it. But if you want something that'll make you nostalgic for the older works of Patricia C. Wrede, this is your book.
It was nice to catch up with the characters from the previous two books, and I liked the focus on Petunia, the youngest daughter. She started off great, pulling out a pistol on the bandits trying to rob her and unflinchingly confronting them. But then as the book went on, her continued ignorance of things that were right in front of her face got incredibly annoying.
When it's finally revealed who the "grandmother" was and what she wanted, Petunia's shock made me roll my eyes. It was right there all along and, unfortunately, the writing wasn't subtle enough to make it a surprise. You knew the grandmother was going to be a villain. The fact that Petunia didn't, even after she kept getting hit in the head with clues and being outright told by several people, was irritating to read about. There's naivete and innocence and wanting to believe the best in people, and then there's just outright stupidity for the sake of plot.
Unfortunately that is one of the weaker points of the novel. The characters are very simple: You have your good guys and then you have your bad guys. The villains are basically there just to move the plot along, and save for a few, the sisters tended to blend together. The ones who aren't really main characters are given token traits to differentiate them, but that's it. This tends to be a problem in retellings of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, I find; the sisters just run together after a certain point. George does better than most, but it still isn't perfect.
I did, however, like the mentions of how some of the sisters didn't really recover from their time spent in the Kingdom Under Stone. It was a nice realistic touch, even if it was sad to see how bad off they were at times. It was great to see them sort of overcome that in the end, and I wish this touch of depth would have been added to everyone else in the cast as well.
The romance is pretty basic. They both fall in love after talking to each other only twice, and while I was originally a little iffy since he does (accidentally) abduct her, it ended up being sweet enough. It's very fairy tale, and I can see how she and Oliver work well together.
The book does suffer from some repetition and some exposition issues, but I didn't mind it too terribly much. It could have been delivered in a better way, but I liked reading about how things have progressed and changed in the ten years since the last book. At times it felt a little aimless, like we were trying to pass the time until the next plot point showed up, but thankfully that didn't last long.
Overall it's far from a bad book. It has its charms and it's an enjoyable read, perfect for when you want a lighter book in between heavy tomes. It's enjoyable because it's nostalgic for old school young adult fantasy, mainly, but it does have its own good points. It's a fitting end to the series.