You've heard the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White...but what about the heroes of those stories? Known only as "Prince Charming," these four uncredited men share the same title and are yet quite different. Frederic is afraid of everything, Gustav is reckless, Liam is obsessed with acts of heroism and Duncan is, well...weird.
When the epilogues of their fairy tales prove to be less than happily ever after, each prince is left with a lack of accomplishment. When the very bards who credited them only as "Prince Charming" go missing, the four Princes Charming team up to thwart a wicked witch and earn themselves a tale worthy of their true titles.
Can Frederic, Liam, Gustav and Duncan overcome their blunders and insecurities and save their kingdoms?
From the moment I learned of this book, I knew I had to read it...or rather, listen to it on audio. I was compelled by the idea of these princes and what their real stories might be. Prince Charming? Such a base archetype, it was just itching to be developed into something worth noticing. 'The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom' is the result.
The wit is infectious from the start and I was smiling and laughing in ways that echoed through my apartment in ways that I might have found embarrassing had I not had but two ginger cats in the vicinity. They didn't appear to be traumatised but they gave me some strange looks. It felt good to enjoy a book in that way, to be compelled to see where this journey would lead but ultimately not caring about the result as much as the adventure of see what the princes would do next.
Liam is my favourite prince and I swear it isn't just because of the Irish accent. I was drawn to his good heart and even though he was a little single minded when it came to heroics, he wasn't ego-centric. Surprising that Sleeping Beauty's prince would be my favourite, since the Brothers Grimm made that story a lot more PG for their readers...but I won't go into that.
While I did have a favourite amongst the princes, I found them all to be engaging and humorous. They all had their obstacles to overcome and they were all on this quest for different reasons. It was great to see them learn from each other was being a hero is actually about. Even Liam had things to learn from Frederic, who was so sure he wasn't cut out to be a hero.
Another thing that this book has going for it is that the women are no damsels. From a mother of eleven children to a princess, women are not shown to be cowards. Ella was one of the main adventurers of the story and Liam's sister, Lila, was quite daring. The two aren't masters in the art of heroics themselves but it is their intelligence and persistence that drive them.
The only part of the book that had me squirming - not in a bad way, quite the contrary - was the romantic attachments that Healy hinted to and touched on. He doesn't establish anything but does enough that the reader can get excited about potential couplings that may not match up with the original tales of the bards.
I was excited to learn that there will be two sequels to 'The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom' and I do hope that they will also be narrated on audio by Bronson Pinchot. Although I don't want to cut the print version of the book short. The illustrations by Todd Harris are marvelous and I was rushing to my local bookstore to look at all the snippets of scenes I had only imagined.
'The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom' is a great children's book but something I would recommend to anyone looking for a good laugh, a great cast of characters and an excellent adventure.