Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful characters, fun plots, lots of laughs
Cons: This is the end of the series
The Bottom Line:
Fairy tales unite
For this fun final chapter
Wraps up series well
Framed for Murder and on the Run
When I read the second book in the Hero’s Guide series a couple of months ago, I determined that I was going to finish the series as quickly as possible. I just had to know what was going to happen to all of these characters. So it was with much anticipation that I sat down to read The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw. While I’m sad to see this trilogy end, I loved every page of this book.
For those who might have missed the previous two books, they are another in the increasingly popular fairy tale mash up genre. In this case, the focus is on the Princes Charming, who might be slightly less heroic than you would imagine. I’m not talking about being evil, but I am talking about sillier or just less charming overall. But when duty calls, they can come together and find a way of being heroic. These princes are from neighboring kingdoms in a realm called the Thirteen Kingdoms. Being the third and final book in the series, I do not recommend you start here. Trust me, you won’t be sorry you read these books in order.
As this book opens, tragedy has struck the kingdom of Avondell. The princess Briar Rose has been murdered. While the kingdom goes into mourning (obviously by subjects who don’t know her well), the decree goes out to arrest the League of Princes and their accomplices (you know, people like Snow White, Ella, and Rapunzel) for this horrible crime. With the reward being untold riches, every bounty hunter in the Thirteen Kingdoms is after our heroes.
As crazy as it sounds, the Princes do have motive based on what Briar Rose has done to them in the past. But they are innocent of the crime, and they figure the only way to save themselves and their friends is to find the real killer. What no one realizes is that this is merely part of a fiendish plot to take over all of the Thirteen Kingdoms. Can the Princes clear their name? Will they be able to defeat this new plot as well?
One reason I was anxious to read this book was the character arcs from the previous book. I could tell where some of these things were going to go, and I was anxious to see if I was right. I’m pleased to say I am very happy with where the characters wound up at the end of this book. No real surprises there, but the target Middle Grade audience might not pick up on the arcs as easily as I did as an adult. And, it’s not a bad thing at all to leave us with happily ever after, especially for a fairy tale series.
Where the surprises came into play was the plot. This book is about 515 pages long, and I was never bored. The story moves forward quickly with plenty of action. I saw a few twists coming early, but there were others I wasn’t expecting. Everything leads up to a climax that is creative, suspenseful, and nicely wraps up everything from the trilogy.
Of course, one reason I loved this series was the plentiful humor with is once again on display here. I can’t count the number of times I laughed, chuckled, or at least grinned over the course of this book. A few of the characters are downright silly, and they provide great laughs. There are some funny situations and witty banter as well.
Circling back to the characters, author Christopher Healy has done a great job making all of the main characters likable. There were a few I didn’t care for as much in the first book, but by now I really do know them and think they are truly great. Even the silliest have had moments that showed true character. Liam, Gustav, Duncan, and Frederic, our four Princes Charming, are very different as well, so it is easy to keep them straight.
With a book this long, I figured I would be happy to finish it in four days. I finished in three. That’s a testament to how quickly the pages fly by and how much I was enjoying it. I rarely wanted to put the book down.