Monday, April 30, 2012

Prince Charming Must Die! by Isabella Fontaine & Ken Brosky

Title: Prince Charming Must Die!
Series: The Grimm Chronicles
Author: Isabella Fontaine & Ken Brosky
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot
Alice was looking forward to a relaxing summer volunteering at the library. Until one day she goes down to the basement and finds a note written to her. With a magic fountain pen. That can kill snakes. And may or may not be related to the talking brown rabbit in a suit who says that it is her destiny to kill corrupted characters from Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Now she only has to decide if she is hallucinating or in possession of a very strange new skill set. But she had better decide fast, because if the rabbit is telling the truth, then Alice’s boyfriend Edward is probably not as charming as he seems…

The Good

I was really excited when I got the e-mail asking me to review Prince Charming Must Die! Fantasy related to fairy tales is one of my favorite genres, and The Grimm Chronicles is sufficiently original to capture my attention. Plus, a new installment of the series is going to be released every two months, which is especially appealing to people like me who devour young adult fantasy novels at a rapacious pace. (And how badly does it date me to say that it brings me back to the days when I was YA age-appropriate and had a new Sweet Valley High book out every month?)

The story is based around Grimms’ Fairy Tales, which are included at the end of the book for people who want to be reminded that the original stories are far more gruesome than their more familiar Disney counterparts. But we also get imagery from other stories as well. Alice going through magic doors and meeting with a talking rabbit is certainly reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s stories, and the rabbit himself is from the traditional southern tales of Br’er Rabbit. Presumably the magic pen that created these creatures has passed through many hands in the last hundred years or so, and we can anticipate that we may see characters from any number of other stories as well.

The Bad

One thing about retellings of fairy tales – you pretty much know what the ending is going to be long before you get there. Apparently that can also be true when you’re dealing with stories about having to kill fairy tale creatures. If you think you know from the title and the first line of the story what the ending is going to be, then, well, you are absolutely right. Sure, there are a few times where it might be implied that the ending is going in a new and novel direction. But mostly that’s just trying to make it even remotely believable that Alice is forestalling the ending. I know that no one wants to accept that her boyfriend is evil, but, seriously, better to just stab him
early on than to wait until he decides to suck out your soul. After all, if he ISN’T evil, stabbing him with a fountain pen will just make him say “wtf?” So, really, foolproof experiment.

The Romance

Alice does not have much in the way of successful romance. I mean, sure, for most of the book, she has “perfect” boyfriend, but we know pretty early on that the relationship is going nowhere good. Like, from the first line. And the title. But I have already harped on the predictability of the story. Regardless, we can hope that Alice meets a better love interest in future stories. Because right now the only other being in the know is Br’er Rabbit, and I’m pretty sure he’s not a love interest. At least, I sincerely hope not. Cuz, yeah, that would be disturbing.

Will I read more?

I was disappointed by the lack of twists and turns in this first story, but that might at least partially be due to the difficulties of introducing a mythology. So I will probably tune in for a few more episodes to see whether it goes somewhere interesting. I’d like to learn more about who has had the pen over the years, and how other fairy tale creatures are hiding in the real world.

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