Review: THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM by Christopher Healy

12969560The basic premise of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom answers the question: “What would happen if the Princes Charming from four different fairy tales (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty) all had major issues and teamed up to win fame and glory?” The answer is “HILARITY AND EPICOSITY AND A LOT OF TRYING AND FAILING.” The princesses are all in the story too, but all the princes and princesses are VERY different from what we know. For example, Briar Rose is a spoiled, mean brat, while Cinderella’s prince is terrified of leaving his castle. The conflict involves the witch from Rapunzel’s fairy tale, but honestly I don’t want to give too much away, because this is a story that evolves organically and you learn everything in the order you’re supposed to know it. AND IT’S FABULOUS.

The characters, who they are, how they act, how they grow, and most especially how they interact with each other, was my absolute favorite bit about this novel. The four princes all have different flaws and strengths, and (of course) it takes them a while to work together. Ella (Cinderella) is fierce but kind of clueless because she’s been under house arrest for so long. The dwarves (they’re experts at everything), the trolls, the dragon, the giant, the witch, the bandits…EVERYONE IS SO GREAT. Also Lila, one of the prince’s younger sister who is probably the most clear-headed character. Prince Duncan was probably my favorite. He is possibly crazy, possibly brilliant, and a ton of fun.

I don’t know if I’ve made it clear yet, but this novel is hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing out loud (granted, it’s pretty easy to make me laugh (BUT STILL)). The story has a lot of twists and turns, and feels a lot like a journey where you really don’t know what is going to happen next because there’s a sort of calculated randomness going on that is impossible to predict but seems inevitable once it happens. Good times.

This novel uses an omniscient narrator. In general, I dislike omniscient narrators, especially in a children’s book because they have a tendency to talk down to the reader. I only occasionally minded it here. It was always clear whose head we were in, and there were many different ways it was used for humor. Also, with so many characters, including five (or six) main characters, I felt like the narration was as decent a choice as any. I also loved the chapter titles, which were always “Prince Charming [Does Something].” They were often funny and gave a hint as to the action in the chapter, without really giving it away because there are four Princes Charming to choose from.

I gave The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom five out five stars for being an absolutely jolly read.

[this review originally posted at my old blogspot.]
The sequel, The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle, will be out on April 30th 2013. Can we talk about the cover? Both covers, in fact? Because they are FABULOUS. There are many illustrations inside by the same artist as the cover, and they’re hilarious and cute and fit the story perfectly.

I'm going to read this book so hard.
I’m going to read this book so hard.
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