Well here’s a fairytale with a twist!
Remember those stories that were read to you as a kid? You know. Cinderella – lived with her horrible step-mother and step-sisters, danced at a ball with Prince Charming and was later rescued by him. Snow White – lived with seven dwarves, ate an apple, fell asleep, and was later rescued by Prince Charming. Rapunzel – captured by an evil witch, placed in a tower, has VERY long hair, and was also rescued by Prince Charming. And Sleeping Beauty – pricked her finger on a loom, placed under a sleeping spell, and, you know, rescued by Prince Charming.
Of course you know these stories. Most do. Well, in The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, these stories are turned upside-down to form a hilarious tale. I did not expect to enjoy this story as much as I did. I simply bought the book because of the illustrations on the cover. I thought them cool and they made me wonder who the figures are and what they do in the book, especially the snooty girl in the gold gown. She seemed stuck-up and afraid to get her dainty hands dirty. I wondered why she was on the front cover next to the other three heroic-looking figures.
The first line made me chuckle, “Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies,” and the more the story progressed, the more comical it became. Unlike the fairy tales, this story is about the Prince Charmings, or rather, the Princes Charming, from the various fairy tales mentioned above. It’s quite unfair that in the fairy tales we read about what happens to the maidens – Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty – but not much is said of the guys who save them. Blame that on the bards!
All we know is that they are princes and they are charming. We don’t even know if they were really brave. Was saving the maidens based on courage or just pure luck? Also, it’s always said that Prince Charming and the rescued maiden falls in love and lives happily ever after. But does that really happen? Healy obviously had these questions on his mind since the story answers them.
All the bards (the guys who spread/sing the tales) in the various kingdoms have disappeared. Cinderella, who is unsatisfied with her Prince Charming, runs away to team up with Rapunzel so that she can live a life of adventure, and to rescue the bards. Realizing that Cinderella has ran away, Frederic (Oh yea, Prince Charming has a name. They all do. Apparently it’s not the same guy in all the stories, as I once thought.) decides to chase after her and win her back. He bumps into Gustav (a Prince Charming who keeps botching his rescues) and later teams up with Liam (a Prince Charming trying to escape marriage to his rescued princess) and Duncan (a Prince Charming who is lost).
This rescue mission to find Cinderella turns into a quest for self-definition and growth as the Princes Charming begin to realize their strengths and develop confidence….well, all except Liam. Liam is instead humbled by the experience.
Of course, this would not be a great fairy tale if there wasn’t an evil witch, a dragon, and a giant. They are all thrown into the mix along with some other fantastical creatures, which we encounter as we travel along with the Princes Charming and read of the various adventures and dangers they place themselves in.
The story is funny, silly, and very entertaining. My favorite part is when the Princes Charming meet one of the most feared persons in all the kingdoms, Deeb Rauber a.k.a. The Bandit King. The description of The Bandit King and the princes’ reactions was hilarious. I kept playing that moment over and over in my head after reading it.
There are a few illustrations throughout the book, created by illustrator, Todd Harris. I just love illustrations in stories. Here they are enough to give the reader a visual of what is described but it is not too much to spoil the fun of using one’s imagination. Harris did a good job on the illustrations.
A great read. I can see this being an animated movie. I hope it becomes one.
- Spring 2012 Flying Starts: Christopher Healy (publishersweekly.com)
- Book Review: ‘The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom’ by Christopher Healy (thebooksmugglers.com)
- Fractured Fairy Tales: ‘The False Prince’ and ‘The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom’ (nytimes.com)
- The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (ceceliabedelia.blogspot.com)