Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters (and growth), fun story, and lots of laughs
Cons: None by the time I finished the book
The Bottom Line:
Meet charming Princes
As they start new adventure
In delightful book
Prince Charming Makes a Name for Himself
Last year, I read a very positive review of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. Since I love all the modern spins on fairy tales (I do recap Once Upon a Time, after all), I went out and bought the book. I promptly left it to gather dust on my to be read pile for the next year.
That was a huge mistake.
I just finished the book, and I loved every page. This was a delightfully funny, fresh take on fairy tales from a different point of view, and I will now add my praise to the chorus of others.
Meet the four Princes Charming. There’s Frederic, who is in danger of losing the heart of Ella because she longs for adventure, and his idea of being daring is having breakfast at their lunch picnic. Gustav, at 6 ft. 8 the runt of his family, is tired of being in the shadow of his older brothers, and his “rescue” of Rapunzel hasn’t helped his reputation. Prince Liam is a true hero engaged to Briar Rose, however he discovers that his fiancée is not a nice woman. Finally, there’s
Duncan, married to Snow White, and driving
her crazy with his strange ways.
All four of them have been immortalized by bards, but all four have just been called Prince Charming, something they hate. When fate brings them together in a quest to find and free Ella from an evil witch, will they be able to work together? Do they even have strengths? Or will their obvious weaknesses tear them down?
Now let’s start out with what I thought was going to be a flaw in the book. Of the four princes, Liam is the only one who has any smarts or abilities – at least when the story begins. For the first half of the book, these guys seem to be stumbling along while the female characters drive the plot forward. Now, don’t misunderstand – I have no problem with strong female characters. Almost all the books I read feature female main characters. However, I was getting annoyed with how wimpy these guys were.
Then, just over half way through, something sparks for them, and they suddenly realize how to turn their weaknesses into strengths. From there on out I was fully on board with a cast of strong male and female characters. Not only that, but we see real friendship and teamwork with this unlikely assortment of characters as the story progresses. I loved it!
And never let it be said that the story was anything but entertaining. There is always something going on, and the twists in the story are fun. I never knew quite what to expect would happen next, and I was surprised a time or two by just where things wound up.
I can’t leave out the humor. The book is delightfully funny with so many great one liners and laugh out loud moments that you can’t help but grin the entire way through. Heck, I was so caught up guard by a couple of the bits that I was laughing in public at this book, and it takes a lot to get me laughing out loud at a book. And yes, much of what was bothering me a little in the first half was also providing much of the laughs, so it was never bad.
In all the fairy tale stories out there, it is nice to find one that looks at and develops the men in the stories. After all, as the book rightly points out, quite often we don’t get their names. With the princes as the main character and the strong women in the story, I think this is something that will appeal to boys and girls equally.
So learn from my mistake. Don’t put off reading The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom another minute. If you haven’t already bought it, do that today, and then start reading the instant you can. Like me, you’ll be looking to move on to the two sequels very quickly.
This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.