Happy Memorial Day!
Today I’m featuring THE HERO’S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE, the sequel to one of my favorite middle grade reads of 2012. If you haven’t read THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM, I highly recommend you do, and definitely before this one. Here’s the description:
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember then, don’t you? They’re the Princes Charming, who finally got some credit after they stepped out f 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 than 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.
I was afraid the five things I loved most about this book would be the same as the first one, but as I looked back on that post, I discovered they aren’t.
1. The humor – This book cracked me up so many times I lost count. Ok, I wasn’t counting to start with, but you get the idea. It’s the kind of tongue-in-cheek humor that appeals to me, but it’s more than the words. It’s the overall situation the characters find themselves in. You can’t help but laugh at/with them.
2. The dialogue – A large part of what makes this book so funny is the dialogue. I especially love Gustav and Duncan, for different reasons. Gustav has a wit he doesn’t recognize himself, while Duncan just says the most outlandish things, and yet I totally get where he’s coming from. Here’s a somewhat long sample, but it will prove points 1 and 2:
“Hey, Mr. Mini-Cape, I see you’ve got yourself a ride this time,” Gustav said, noticing Duncan’s horse.
“Ah, yes,” Duncan said. “Allow me to introduce Papa Scoots Jr. As you surely remember, the original Papa Scoots ran away last year. I thought I’d never have a horse like that again. But as luck would have it, one autumn morning, this fine beast wandered into Papa Scoots’s old stable. To make it even more of a coincidence, he looks exactly like Papa Scoots! So I had to name him Papa Scoots Jr. It’s like fate.”
“Um, Duncan,” Frederic said tentatively. “Did you ever consider that maybe Papa Scoots just found his way back home? That this is Papa Scoots?”
“Impossible,” Duncan said. “Papa Scoots hated me.” And with that, Papa Scoots Jr. kicked Duncan into a bush.
“All right, we’ve got business to attend to,” Gustav said. “Enough horsing around.”
Frederic chuckled. “That was funny, Gustav.”
Gustav frowned. “It wasn’t meant to be.”
3. The illustrations – I’m actually surprised I didn’t mention this in my review of the first book. The illustrations by Todd Harris are so perfect, appearing at just the right time to add a visual to the story. I saw a tweet from Christopher Healy about a possible animated movie. I hope Todd Harris will be involved!
4. The happily ever afters – The first book left the HEAs in definite jeopardy, and it was one of my favorite things about the book. I left this one thinking maybe there would be HEAs by the end of the series, but the characters will have to work for them. They won’t be all tied up with a bow like in a typical fairy tale.
5. The ending – I like the way Christopher Healy wrapped up this story but left several threads hanging for the next book. As a writer, I’m always interested in how authors handle the second book in a series. There’s a lot more leeway to leave it open for the next one if the first book was already successful. That’s definitely the case here, and yet it wasn’t the type of cliffhanger that left me frustrated I couldn’t read the third book right away. I’ll definitely pick it up as soon as I can, but I’m ok with waiting.
Who else loves these books? And if you haven’t read them, go get them now!