The Misadventures and Tribulations of Princess Persnickety and Stefan the Stableboy

A Middle Grade Epic Fantasy Series

by J. Alana Menzies

the Defenders of Practavia

IS the First Book in this series

If you like exciting stories, relatable characters, tongue-in-cheek humor, and empowering lessons, you’ll love this children’s fantasy.

“Enthralling and fast-paced! I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait to present this clever and assertive young heroine and her best friend to my grandchildren!”

CLAIRE DE BUBERE, MD, PhD

- medical and environmental health teacher

The Realm of the Five Kingdoms
is on a planet far, far away...

A peaceful planet. Or so it seemed. 

Until one day, everything changed.

Intruders attacked one of the five kingdoms. 


A Look Inside
The Defenders of Practavia

  • The characters

  • The plot

  • Practavia

  • The Kingdom of the Realms

The Characters

  • Princess Amber has no interest in useless girly skills. Nicknamed “Princess Persnickety” at a young age by a frustrated nursery maid, the feisty first daughter of the kingdom yearns for adventure. So she’s thrilled when a foreign messenger’s mount speaks to her… and swears her to secrecy.
  • Stefan wishes he knew where he came from. Adopted by poor weavers, his only skill seems to be caring for animals. But when the messanger's camel tells him Practavia is in great danger, Stefan is eager to help save it.
  • King Arturo the Peaceful and Queen Beatrice the Goodhearted are the rulers of Practavia. They are well-liked by the people who live in their land. In fact, Practavia is a rather boring kingdom, at least as far as their daughter is concerned.
  • Prince Edgar is the princess's younger brother, who can be very annoying. 
  •  Rose Bantry is the daughter of a farmer and Princess Amber's maid. 

Hi, I'm J. Alana Menzies. It's great to see you!

I write classic-style mysteries for adults under the name  J. A. Menzies, which is also the name on these books. But I thought I should have a separate website for this series, which is clearly fantasy (with maybe a touch of mystery) and primarily for 9-12-year-olds. 

By the way, J. Alana Menzies was actually my original birth name. Yes, like Stefan, I was adopted. 

Why I wrote The defEnders of Practavia

Four of the first books I owned were Hans Christian Anderson and Grimm's Brother Fairytales, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan.
And I’ve wanted to write a fantasy novel ever since the first time I read C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. Especially The Horse and His boy.

When my then 8-year-old second grand-daughter repeatedly asked me to write a book for "her age," I wrote a draft of this book. Unfortunately, it took me more than ten years to get it published so other people could read it. (See cover next to this.)  And it even won an award. But then I decided one book wasn't going to be enough, so I renamed it, got a new cover design, and now I'm working on the next books.

The Defenders of Practavia 

Sneak - Peek

Scroll through this sneak peek preview to see if The Defenders of Practavia hooks you the way it has so many other readers. 

Scroll to read

Chapter 1

“There! That’s the last straw!” Princess Persnickety, aged twelve years, five months, and four days, had been sitting on a bale of straw in a large stable situated behind the castle where her family lived. Now she set a straw hat on her head, stood up, and placed her hands on her hips.

“Is it?” asked her companion, a young man approximately two months older than she, who was contentedly sprawled on a nearby bale of straw with his back against an end wall of the stable. He’d been chewing on a straw, but now he removed it from his mouth and frowned. “It didn’t take you very long. Are you sure it won’t fall apart the first time you wear it?”

“It’s a perfectly fine hat!” The princess, who wore a green muslin gown with a droopy sash and tattered edges, unwrapped the matching scarf that had been wrapped around her head like a turban, and placed a rather lop-sided straw hat with a wide brim on top of her waist-length brown hair. The brim of the hat flopped down, partially covering her caramel-toned face. She tried to make the hat sit back further so she could see, but the brim fell over her face again. She turned and faced her childhood playmate, as if daring him to criticize.

Stefan had the dubious distinction of being the only person in the Kingdom of Practavia capable of navigating the up-and-down nature of the princess for more than a few days at a time. 

Now, he cocked his head to one side, his long blond curls askew as usual. “Well, it’s a hat,” he said. “More or less.”

Princess Persnickety glared at him. “It’s a very nice hat! Anyway, how many princesses do you know who can make a hat?”

Ignoring the fact that most of the common people in Practavia could do a much better job, Stefan said, “I don’t know any other princesses. You’re the only one. Except the ones in stories, of course: Cinderinder, Sleeping Pretty, Snow Flake…”

“Fairy tale princesses!” his companion scoffed. “Created out of thin air by old men who choose to believe women and girls are helpless idiots who constantly get into difficulty and need a big, brave man to rescue them. None of them are anything like real princesses!”

Stefan’s eyebrows moved together in a frown. “Do you know any other princesses?”

Stretching to her full height, the princess thrust her chin up as she said, “I know myself, and I am quite real.” Hat firmly on her head, she strode out of the stable....

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"My 12-year-old grandson and I read this book together and were avid fans. The eccentric characters appealed to both of us in their personalities and their ingenuity in overcoming difficulties. The world they inhabit is interesting: harmonious diversity coupled with the inevitable undesirable traits that we associate with human quest for power. The plot has interesting twists and turns; the climax is unexpected and delightful! A great read!"

Seeker - on Amazon

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book for younger people. The story line would keep youth interested and at the same time, would teach them valuable life lessons and values. The subtleties of the various skin tones of the characters, will hopefully teach them that race, class and ethnicity should not matter. Two thumbs up!”

Donna Dougan, MBA, retired financial analyst and administrative assistant, dedicated volunteer, avid reader

"The title grabbed my attention and I was hooked. A well-written story that was hard to put down. I had to find out what happened!”

CAROLINE SEALEY, WRITER, AUTHOR, STORYTELLER!

"An exciting, picturesque story for juniors and adults too. Excellent believable characters and plot. The author skillfully pulls you along through the story and you don't want to put it down. I wanted to check it out for my grandson before giving it to him. A great adventure to begin his fantasy journey. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Well done."

Janis cox, author

Chapter 1

“There! That’s the last straw!” Princess Persnickety, aged twelve years, five months, and four days, had been sitting on a bale of straw in a large stable situated behind the castle where her family lived.  Now she set a straw hat on her head, stood up, and placed her hands on her hips. 

“Is it?” asked her companion,



Chapter 1

“There! That’s the last straw!” Princess Persnickety, aged twelve years, five months, and four days, had been sitting on a bale of straw in a large stable situated behind the castle where her family lived. Now she set a straw hat on her head, stood up, and placed her hands on her hips.

“Is it?” asked her companion,

“Is it?” asked her companion, a young man approximately two months older than she, who was contentedly sprawled on a nearby bale of straw with his back against an end wall of the stable.

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In my own words...

Although this book was the first time I'd tried my hand at writing fantasy, I have always loved this genre. The other bonus was that it gave me a good reason to read more and more fantasy--including children's and YA fantasy.
So I thought I'd mention a fantasy novels I've enjoyed over the last few years. 
  • The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (and the rest of this series) by Stephanie Burgis
  • The Horse and His Boy (and the rest of the Narnia series) by C. S. Lewis
  • A Wrinkle in Time (and the rest of her books) by Madeline L'Engle
  • The Crisanta Knight series (YA) by Geanna Culbertson
A Prequel to The Defenders of Practavia
My Inspiration for This Series of Books

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J. Alana Menzies also writes mysteries for adults

See them at JAMENZIES.COM