I love when authors take old fairy tales and spin them around in new and inventive ways. I was so very excited about The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. Four disgruntled Princes Charming going out to make their names important. It is most excellent fun.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Prince Liam. Prince
Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You've never head 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, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Guztav
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 associated terrors to becom
the heroes no one ever thought they could be.
The princes are all suffering from different types of problems. Liam is less than happy about having to marry the spoiled petulant Briar Rose. Gustav is trying to prove his worth to his family, most especially his 16 older brothers, and having to be rescued by Rapunzel didn't do his ego any favors. Duncan and Snow White truly love each other, but are having difficulties adjusting to married life together. Probably because they are both exceedingly odd. Frederic truly wants to marry Ella, but Ella thinks he is boring and goes off adventuring on her own. It is this particular problem that sets the story in motion. Frederic wants Ella back and so ventures into the unknown himself for the first time in his life. Along the way he meets up with the other three princes and they form an alliance to save their kingdoms from the evil witch. With a healthy dose of help from Ella. And Liam's sister Lila shows herself to be fairly capable and awesome as well.
This is a large cast of characters and every single one of them is wonderful. I thought I would have a difficult time remembering which prince was which but I didn't. Their personalities are so very different it was not at all difficult to keep them straight. The story does have a touch of the absurd in it, but that is what makes it so utterly delightful. There is a lot going on too: a bandit king with an early bed time, dragons, surly dwarves, missing bards, and a witch with a diabolical plan that must be thwarted. It is great good fun.
I really enjoyed how the princesses were portrayed as well. (Other than Briar Rose, but every story has to have at least one mean girl right?) Ella and Liam's sister Lila were my favorites of the girls and I hope both of them continue to be important to the story as it continues in the next volume.
It is a little long, but I think most readers will be so caught up in the world and zany characters they won't really care.
This is the sort of book Bit just loves too which is why I bought it for her birthday.