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Thursday, May 23, 2013

REVIEW: "The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom" by Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes, #1)
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy; Illustrated by Todd Harris
(League of Princes #1)

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For Ages 8+
Middle Grade/Fantasy
Walden Pond Press --May 1, 2012
Hardcover, 419 pages
Borrowed from the Library

THEMES
Opposites Attract, Disguises, Hero in Pursuit, Held Captive

SUMMARY
Prince Liam.  Prince Frederic.  Prince Duncan.  Prince Gustav.  You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming.  But all of this is about to change.

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms.  Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

FIRST LINE
Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies.  Didn't know that, did you?

MY THOUGHTS
As can be expected by my blog title, I am a huge fan of fairy tales.  I love almost everything about them from the dragons to the swashbuckling adventures to the love stories.  But, I also understand the limitations of this genre and how underdeveloped the characters can be.  That is one of the main reasons why I love fairy tale retellings because it is a way for me to imagine the depths of my favorite stories beyond the classic tales.

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a hilarious take on four of the most well-known fairy tales in our culture (Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty) and shows what happens after the happily ever after.  Specifically, Christopher Healy focuses on the princes of those tales who have never been given a name beyond the generic Prince Charming.  Now, these gentlemen take center stage and show readers that heroes can come with all forms.

My favorite part of this book are the princes.  Each of them is well-developed and funny in their own way.  Readers get to know more about burly Gustav who resents Rapunzel for saving him from the witch, handsome Liam who isn't so sure he wants to marry Briar Rose after all, quirky Duncan who worships the ground Snow White walks on, and (my personal favorite) Frederic whose dainty ways force Ella to leave him.  Each prince has his own reasons to save their kingdoms and it was a treat to watch them interact with each other.

The princesses are also part of the story though they aren't given as much page time as the princes, understandably.  I really liked the way that Healy went beyond the typical princess stereotype with Ella, Rapunzel and Snow.  Briar Rose, at first, seemed to be a cliched spoiled brat, but she became so delightfully awful that I want to know more about her. 

The League of Princes has to deal with a multitude of issues on their quest to become heroes.  Like many fairy tales, they must fight giants, dragons, trolls, angry villagers, etc.  There also is the resident evil witch whose plot is both diabolical and comical.  I also adored any scene where the League encountered the mysterious Deeb the Bandit King.

All in all, I thought The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom was appropriately funny and touching for a fairy tale retelling.  There was a ton of a creativity on the part of the author and the illustrations peppered throughout the book just added to the fun.  I will admit that the plot did get a little long-winded in the last third of the book, but things wrapped up nicely by the end.  I had a great time reading this book and I am eagerly anticipating the chance to read its sequel, The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle.

***4 STARS***

FAVORITE QUOTE
I'm Liam of Erinthia.  I'm here to rescue you ... and...you are not Cinderella.  You are a tree branch wrapped in a sheet.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
2. The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle

AUTHOR INFORMATION

2 comments:

  1. Yay! I'm so glad that you loved this one! It was one of my favorite reads from last year. Storming the Castle is great, too, but I did like the first one the best. And in Storming the Castle we get to see more of the princesses, and even Briar Rose shows more depth.

    Also, Duncan is my favorite too. I just love him :)

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  2. This book sounds like so much fun! I did check it out from the library last spring, but didn't have time to read it before it had to go back. One day soon I must try again!

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