Review: A Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (Christopher Healey)

Product Details:
Reading level: Middle Grades, fairy tale retellings
Pages: 419
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (May 1, 2012)
ISBN: 9780062117434
Source: a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomEnter a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

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.

What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously.
Let’s start with the plot. Bumbling heroes, an evil witch, a diplomatic giant, vegetarian trolls, and princesses that don’t need rescuing—a perfect combination for a fast-paced plot full of hijinks and adventure. I fell in love with this story on the first page. The opening line says, “Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that did you?” The light-hearted tone from the opening line runs throughout this book. I literally laughed out loud in places. If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, you will love this book. I guarantee it. There are so many twists to the original tales that this book becomes its own version of a fairy-tale. How great is it to make Snow White slightly off her rocker and Cinderella like a ninja?

The characters are extremely enjoyable too. The Princes Charming (there was a grammar lesson attached to this name in the book) are pretty ticked off that they go nameless in all the tales. They want people to know who the “Prince Charming” in the story really is. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But when Cinderella goes “missing,” a true hero senses the opportunity for a rescue. And so this team of misfit heroes is formed (in a rather entertaining way).

Gustav is one of my favorite characters in the book. Nicknamed “Angry Man” by a troll, he undergoes the greatest transformation throughout the story. Short tempered and often irrational, he is more of a liability than an asset. But he does learn a few lessons along the way. His slowly developing friendship with Frederick—the OCD Prince Charming belonging to Cinderella—is rather endearing. Of course, Frederick is hilarious in his own right. He’s the smooth talker in the group, which is a good thing because he can’t do anything else. Then there are the princes Liam and Duncan.  Liam seems to have things together, except that he thinks he’s unstoppable. But Duncan is the life of the party. There is something “off” about Snow White’s beau. The man names animals that randomly appear in the forest! That’s not normal.

I would be wrong to discuss characters and not mention the leading ladies in this story. They were independent, strong-minded, and better heroes than the men. Not your stereotyped princesses by any means. Cinderella could be a super ninja. I enjoyed the side stories that told of her adventures sans the Princes Charming. When the stories finally merge, it forms a great team of heroes that I can’t wait to read more about. (And I do hope they will be recruiting more princesses into the team.)

I’m happy to say that this book is the beginning of a series. I am anticipating this book becoming a favorite. It should be read aloud so everyone can appreciate the witty humor and antics in the story. Otherwise, people nearby will wonder what’s wrong with you as you laugh out loud with every turn of the page.



Christa @ Hooked on Books said... .

I've never heard of this book before but I LOVE the sound of it. Will definitely be checking it out!

May 9, 2012 at 6:42 PM
The Flashlight Reader said... .

This book is worth it! I loved every page. I just read on another blog that there is talk about turning it into an animated film. I'm so excited about that! The whole time I was reading this, I was thinking to myself what a great kids' film this would be.
May 10, 2012 at 8:36 AM

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