The story was about an urchin adopted by an acting troupe to pretend to be the lost princess of the city. These are the details I remember (some of the early events are a little crude; my apologies):

  1. I read it between 2003–2007; I can't recall the exact year. The book definitely looked new; the condition and the materials would surprise me if they were more than 5 years old. As much as I liked it, I doubt it was a republish for a much older series. It was a paperback, and in the small library it was in close proximity of the book Originator by Claire Charmichael.
  2. The main character's job was cleaning up horse manure in medieval type city.
  3. At one point a rival urchin arranges for her to have to clean up a particularly "wet" set of manure.
  4. There was a merchant that sometimes shared food with her, but shunned her due to the odor from the above.
  5. She purchases and overuses cheap perfume to cover this smell so she can enter a theater. While watching a play the overpowering odor chokes the other guests, and they eject her.
  6. She was in the theater because she dreamed of (or at least admired) actors.
  7. The main male character is a principal member of an acting troupe. She meets him after kicking a stone which scuffed his black leather boots.
  8. A sheriff/warden/steward ran the city in the place of a missing royal family.
  9. The acting troupe wants the main character to pretend to be the lost princess, because of her looks.
  10. It is ambiguous if she actually was the true heir. At the end she answers a direct question about her identity with, "I am an actor," or something similar.
  11. The troupe leaves the city with her, and she is happy this way.
  12. This book was one of a series. There may have been a variety of authors. Each was set in the same city but with a different main character and events.
  13. I recall one had the main character enter a futuristic area at the end. The writing described the place from his unfamiliar perspective. He smashed what he didn't recognise as a monitor to free his friend "trapped" in it.

Dragons or wizards or devils didn't have a large part anything, at least in the book I am looking for. I marked this as fantasy because (like in point 13) I recall there being fantastic parts. These are the details I used to form my own search. I have over the last couple of years tried several searches, on the Internet and in libraries, to no avail.

  • Nice, appreciated. You have a very detailed description here, but just in case, take a look at these guidelines on story-id, see if that triggers any more memories to edit in (what the cover looked like, stuff like that). Welcome to the site :)
    – Jenayah
    Aug 24, 2019 at 8:29
  • Have you tried asking the librarian at the library where you got it?
    – Valorum
    Aug 24, 2019 at 16:00
  • @Valorum Sadly, no. I no longer live in the area, and it was a school library. I suppose I could try and email someone there, I am unsure what kind of luck I would have though.
    – SE_Tank
    Aug 25, 2019 at 0:22
  • @SE_Tank - It's worth asking the question. I've found that many people love a mystery and are willing to bend over backwards to help solve it.
    – Valorum
    Aug 25, 2019 at 5:56
  • 1
    @Valorum Heck, Who Dares Wins. I sent an email (to administration, no direct library contacts were public). I'll add an edit to the question with any reply, positive or otherwise. It occurred to me that, if there was a library card system in place at the time, they may actually have a record of all of my loans, but for my quaint little school this may not have happened while I was there.
    – SE_Tank
    Aug 25, 2019 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


I found it. At long last, I found it. I have to say, it was tricky. I tried over and over again every variation of the details I knew (or thought I knew) in google and every book search website I could find. Then, under advice from a New York Public Library article, I did a very specific search in Reddit. Empset themselves had been looking for the book I was talking about, among others, and had found it.

The Perfect Princess. A part of The Quentaris Chronicles, a 29 book series written by a variety of Australian authors.

enter image description here

There were many details I got wrong, or slightly off, but the brief synopsis I could read as well as the now familiar cover art quickly convinced me this was it (for the record, that is the main character and the gentleman who had his boots scuffed on the statue).

Thank you to everyone who thought about this one, or helped or did any kind of searching. My only regret is I can't give points to someone else for this.

Oh, and the Librarian I emailed responded - they were happy to help, but I have to sheepishly tell them that I found the answer! So, good advice, I recommend it to anyone else who gets the chance.

Note: I am following the advice of this question, please inform me if this was wrong.

  • 2
    Glad you found it! Posting your own answer is exactly the right thing to do if you find the book yourself. I was interested to know the answer and now I do :-) Aug 26, 2019 at 10:32

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