Tuesday, May 28

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy

After a rigorous adventure of thwarting a villain, the Princes Charming and Cinderella have settled down to their own victories and embarrassments. Liam is exiled from his land, Duncan is big-headed, Gustav is infuriated at his constant ridicule and Frederic's relationship with Ella is a huge question mark.

When one of the princes gets kidnapped (how humiliating) they all must band together again to rescue him. What results is a task to recover a precious item which, in the hands of someone with devious intentions, may prove deadly. Will our heroes manage to achieve their goal before it is too late?

The sequel to ‘The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom’ didn’t disappoint. I purchased it on the day of its release and was quick to devour it. There were many layers to the plot, and my question throughout wasn’t so much, “Who is good and who is evil?” but rather, “Who is worse?” A couple of aspects of the story were guessable but mostly I was inquisitive and the author never seemed to take the easy or obvious route.

It is very interesting that the characters – the Princes Charming and their princesses – are originally known for their romantic origins, yet the story does not focus heavily on their romantic entanglements. It is a fact which I find rather refreshing. There is a subtle weaving of romantic tension between the characters - adding spice to the already excellent dynamics – but it is not blatant as to where feelings lie. With the exception of the lone married couple, Prince Duncan and Snow White. Those two were made for each other. They are both so odd and quirky, yet wonderfully different. It’s amazing how Snow and Duncan flit between such insight and general cluelessness.

As before, I love that the character and gender roles aren’t so concrete. Ella and Lila are strong, female characters but they aren’t exempt from flaws and fears. The princes all have their own forms of heroism and while Frederic and Duncan don’t have the more obvious heroic personas of Liam and Gustav, the latter can be stubborn to a fault. Coming back to strong female characters, Rapunzel and Snow show a subtler form of empowerment that I quite liked. While Briar may not be a “hero” she is a take-charge kind of gal and this book showed her to be multi-faceted, which was a nice turn in her character development. She is undeniably an excellent source of conflict.

Previously I have said that my favourite of the League of Princes is Liam. He appears to be the archetypal hero but in this book he has begun to doubt himself and proves his faults. I rather like him the more for it, though I can only deal with so much of his moping. Pluck up, lad.

Todd Harris’ illustrations were superb, though I would have like to have seen a depiction of Gustav at the ball. That would have been a riot.

The novel concludes with untidy ends for some of the characters, which leaves me all too curious for the next volume, which I believe will be the final instalment. I hope it will include plenty of delectable character dynamics and maybe some further insight into Frederic’s mother and the messenger, Smimf.

I highly recommend you read ‘The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle’ but I insist you begin with the first book, ‘The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.’

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Waldon Pond Press and is used solely as an aide to the review.

No comments: