I read books of all sorts, but mostly kids' lit and young adult literature and speculative fiction for all ages—usually from a feminist perspective.
I've adopted a personalized version of the CHOICE reviews approach to recommendations/star ratings:
***** = Essential, a.k.a. truly love, absolute must-read, buy it now
**** = Highly Recommended, a.k.a. this is a really good book; I would buy it as a gift
*** = Recommended, a.k.a. pretty good; worth reading
** = Optional, a.k.a. meh
* = Not Recommended; a.k.a. this is not a good book
What’s it about?
As opposed to the usual spin on fairy tale retellings, this book picks up during the after in “Happily Ever After.” Princes Frederic, Gustav, Liam, and Duncan find that they have all become the collective Prince Charming in ballads. Meanwhile, their rescued princesses (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, respectively) all find themselves disappointed by their new royal beaux and the lives they are expected to lead. When the princesses decide to take control of their lives and make themselves happy, the princes set out to prove themselves worthy not only of the ladies’ affections, but of their own self-respect (and, along the way, recognition as individuals).
What is there to like?
Funny and smartly told, the story’s underlying messages are about loyalty, friendship, and appreciating individual strengths—and, refreshingly, “walks the walk” with characters who can be sympathetic even when occasionally unlikeable. Does credit to young readers with villains who aren’t easily fooled (readers should especially like Deeb Rauber, The Bandit King). With strong role models for boys and girls, this book should appeal to both.
What’s not to like?
What made me pick it up?
This article from Publishers Weekly, in which the author is quoted: “…while [Healy] would often commiserate with other parents who were troubled by archetypical images of passive princesses, he was also perturbed by the vacuous nature of Prince Charming in fairy tales like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Cinderella. ‘He’s so inconsequential,’ Healy says. ‘He’s presented as the ideal man, but he has no personality.’ If princesses are going to fall in love with princes, he continues, then ‘shouldn’t we care about who these men are?’”
Overall Recommendation: Highly Recommended