Book Review: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

Title/Author:  The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retellings, Humor

Published:  May 1st, 2012 by Walden Pond Press

Hardcover, 438 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  I don’t remember how I heard about this book.  Maybe through an ad, maybe through a blog preview, but as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to read it!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard 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 Gustav 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 assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Debut author Christopher Healy takes us on a journey with four imperfect princes and their four improbable princesses, all of whom are trying to become perfect heroes–a fast-paced, funny, and fresh introduction to a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.”

My Review of this Work:

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom tells the story of four princes more commonly referred to as Prince Charming in their respective tales.  We have Prince Frederic, the man who wooed Ella (aka Cinderella) at the ball, but who then lost her due to his lack of adventure-seeking-ness.  We have Prince Gustav, the youngest of 17 brothers, who “rescued” Rapunzel from the witches tower only to fall in a pile of thorns and lose his eye sight and had to be saved by Rapunzel’s healing tears.  We have Prince Liam, the noble hero who woke the Sleeping Beauty Briar Rose from her spell, but he found out she was a complete jerk and refused to marry her.  And we have Prince Duncan, who kisses and marries Snow White but who is so incredibly strange and directionally challenged that he gets lost.  These nameless princes in their own stories ban together to save the kingdom from a witch’s terrible plot in the hopes of rewriting themselves in history as true heroes.

From the first page to the last, this middle grade novel is filled with the laugh out loud adventures in fairy tale land.  The writing style of this novel is inviting to readers of all ages, as there is such an adventurous tone to it.  Think of your favorite animated feature.  Toy Story?  The Incredibles?  This novel is written in a way that replicates the feature film experience in a book form.  From the hysterical character interactions to the exciting adventures, The Hero’s Guide is an entertaining story that can be enjoyed by all.  I am constantly on the lookout for great read-a-loud/read together novels for my future family, and I have added this book to my list!  This is one of those stories that is just as exciting to read as it is to listen!

Christopher Healy hits the nail on the head with his ability to tell a story that is truly inviting to the reader.  He takes familiar fairy tales and weaves them into his own storyland adventure, complete with evil witches, silly giants, and stubborn dwarVEs.  But what is truly great about this work is that Healy gives the nameless, personality bland princes of the fairy tales a true character and personality.  He allows for the men of the fairy tales to have their own voices and showcase their own strengths.  Yet at the same time, Healy does not make the princesses weak.  They, too, having charming (or not so charming) personalities that are quite fitting to each girl (in my opinion).  Some of our fair maidens are truly strong and courageous women who can stand on their own ground and do not need a Prince to rescue them.  But some of our revelled princesses are revealed to be snobs.  While keeping a humorous tone, Healy delves into the complexities of humanity and people, showcasing both the good and the bad.  Quite the insight for a middle grade fantasy retelling, eh?  =)

The only negative that I found with this story is that it kind of dragged on toward the end.  The pace of the development from the beginning was perfect; it kept me interested and excited.  But I feel like 75 pages of banter could have been taken out and it would have still been just as fantastic!  But it didn’t deter from my enjoyment (obviously)!

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is one of those books that tells a great story for all ages.  Whether you are 5 or 105, this story will excite you and make you laugh!  And this is a fairy tale story written with young boys in mind, so that they may have a voice in the fairy tale world.  This novel is truly a fantastic story, and one that I would highly recommend to everyone!

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Fourth Shelf Book!

Honestly, if this book was about 75 pages shorter it would have gotten a 5!  Such a brilliant way to bring new light and life to our beloved fairy tales!  With humor and adventure, Christopher Healy tells the real story of our four Princes Charming in an exciting and invigorating way!  An enticing story for all ages!  What a treat!  And it looks like their may be a sequel of some kind, as the spine says Book 1.  I will keep you informed.

Love and Prince Charming,
Jennifer

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