The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy is that story. Who are these princes? What are their names? Their personalities? Healy has taken those bare boned details and created a delightfully entertaining story about who these princes really are and what happens after the "happily ever after".
This is the perfect middle grade book and if I had read this when I was a kid, I would have inhaled it. Which is not to say that I didn't like it now. On the contrary! I found it to be perfectly entertaining. The story itself wasn't without it's flaws (mostly that some of the princes real personalities totally annoyed me...) but the book was just... so perfectly readable and entertaining.
Even when they drove me crazy, I loved seeing a real side to these heroes who had previously often been demoted to nothing but a kiss and a title. My favorite was Prince Liam and that's all I'm going to say because I think these are characters that are best discovered on your own. Each of the characters in this novel start in one place and end in another that demonstrates growth as a person, but doesn't take away from who they actually are. I love that. I love seeing characters learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others, sacrifice what they want for what's best for others and just become better people.
The princesses aren't exactly what they appear to be in the original tales either. They are also given their own unique personalities and attributes (some good, some most assuredly not...) The side characters were also a lot of fun. I loved Liam's little sister Lila, the bounty hunter, the Bandit King and his group of bandits and the Trolls. Oh my goodness, the Trolls! They might possibly be my favorite part of the story. Seriously.
The book is told by a narrator, talking directly to the reader, who already knows the whole story and sometimes gets ahead of him/herself. I'm not normally a fan of that body-less/nameless narrator talking at me from the pages, but in this story, it worked. I never felt annoyed or pulled out of the story because of the narrator and I actually loved his little hints and nudges and secrets that the heroes really should know, but didn't.
I am so not doing this book justice. This review is all over the place, for which I apologize, but there is just so much going on in this book and it's just so fun and funny and charming (ya, I said it. So what). But really. You need to go out and read this book. If you like fairy tales, read it. If you like the funny and absurdly ridiculous, read it. If you know a kid (boy or girl) who likes action and bumblers and heroes and fun and awesome princesses, then go buy it/read it/share it. It's a book that I think has something to offer to everyone. Not everyone is going to love it, but I'll wager most everyone will definitely enjoy it.
It's the beginning of a new series. But it ends well. There is no cliffhanger, no annoyance when you turn the last page. If you wanted this novel to be it, you could read this one as a stand alone and be happy. But let's be honest. It's me we are talking about. I'm for sure going to be eagerly anticipating the next installment of these
Oh ya. And also... The illustrations? Fabulous. Like, seriously. Ashley is in love.
Check out the awesome guest post from Christopher during Fairy Tale Fortnight!
And here is a link to an excerpt with illustrations I posted!
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the awesome folks at Walden Pond Press in exchange for an honest review. And it is.