Cinderella. Rapunzel. Sleeping Beauty. Snow White. Four massively popular fairy tales, retold time and time again…
And the Princes Charming always get the short end of the stick.
In The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, by Christopher Healy, the story begins where the old stories ended – but in an ‘after’ that’s really not so ‘happy’.
For one reason or another, nothing’s gone as expected for these princes. They find themselves separated from their princesses, each dealing with their individual problems – cowardice, life in the shadow of sixteen mighty brothers, lies spread by a rotten (ex)fiancé, and a sore lack of friends (as a result of general craziness).
Princes Frederick, Gustav, Liam, and Duncan band together in order to stop an evil witch and save the day. And some hostages. Not to mention their reputations (which are a bit lackluster, thanks to the bards’ failure to fact-check before spreading their stories).
As someone who loves fairy-tale retellings, I was very excited by the premise of this book.
And Hero’s Guide exceeded my expectations. It addresses common questions asked by fairy-tale lovers everywhere --“Why didn’t the prince in Rapunzel go get a ladder?” “Why did the prince in Cinderella send a servant to track her down instead of going himself?” “If two people have never even spoken before, can it really be ‘True Love’s’ kiss?”
The book also crafts deep, connectible characters who develop widely over the course of the book. They’re all so plausible that you wonder why you never imagined them in such a way to begin with. Watching the friendships grow (especially in the case of two certain characters) was wonderful. The princes have very different personalities – each uniquely their own – and yet they fit. Together, they make for a fabulous tale—even if they’re not always sure exactly what’s going on.
Aside from the characters, there’s the fact that Hero’s Guide is absolutely hilarious. A quirky, fun book that had my inner critic relaxed and laughing from the first page onward.
The story (and the accompanying artwork) remind me a lot of movies like Tangled, and How to Train Your Dragon. It’s a whole-heartedly fun read. You’ll fall in love with the
Princes Prince Gustav characters, and be rooting for
them the whole way through.
I, personally, am very glad that this is only ‘Book 1’, and have placed it prominently upon the family bookshelf so that my younger brother can read it, too. Frankly, I think that’s the highest praise I can give to a book.