“Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don’t you? They’re the Princes Charming, who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses—Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose—to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms.
But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening—even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.”
Healy has a knack of making the most random and crazy scenarios work, and all with a tone of ridiculousness that flows naturally and doesn’t seem forced in the least bit (some books that have this same tone feel like they’re trying too hard). Even the cover art references how ridiculously awesomely cool this book is.
All the princes took a step up in capability this book, although they still remained their bumbling, weird selves. I was most proud of Frederic, but Liam’s existential crisis was great, too. I loved the “we’re making this up as we go along” plot to storm the Bandit King’s castle and how surprisingly well it worked out. I was also impressed with the twists that Healy managed to pull off in a type of book that usually relies more on its humor than its plot to carry it along. In other words, Healy delivers on the humor and the plot.
That being said, though, I must admit that at the beginning of the book I absolutely hated the fact that the princes were continuously made out to be fools. I don’t find that to be funny at all. There’s a fine line between “bumbling” and “foolish” and Healy went too far in the “foolish” direction, I think. I found myself thinking that if Healy does the same sort of thing in the next book that I would be really mad. It undermines the characters’ development and just ruins the atmosphere, in my opinion.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade
“Excuse me, Ruffian,” Ella interjected. “You always wear that cape, right? Because Frederic was insisting that villains never wear capes.”
“I’m not a villain,” Ruffian whined. “Bounty hunting is a legitimate profession. And anyway, I’m wearing a cowl.”
“Aha!” said Frederic, sitting back and folding his arms in a very satisfied manner. “Thank you, Mr. Ruffian.”
“I thought it was a cloak,” Briar said.
“No. Cloaks are just long capes,” Frederic said.
Briar rubbed the fabric of Ruffian’s cowl between her thumb and forefinger. “Why aren’t you wearing a cloak? I wanted a henchman draped in a mysterious cloak.”
“How could the name of the garment possibly make a difference?” Ruffian asked.
“It sounds scarier,” Briar said. “‘Cowl’ is the least terrifying word I’ve ever heard.”
“Oh, I disagree,” Duncan added. ‘It makes me think of cow-owls. And those are horrifying. MOO-WHO! MOO-WHO!”
I started out slightly annoyed at the start of The Hero’s Guide to Storming a Castle, since Healy seemed determined to beat the “bumbling incompetent princes” theme to the ground. However, all the princes, but especially Frederic and Liam, got some very nice development and some upgrades in the competency department, which made me able to enjoy the ridiculousness more.
You can buy this here: The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle