Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Charming - Jade Linwood

I took a chance on his one which well and truly paid off. It's another cosy sort of fantasy, this time with the starting point that Prince Charming is a conman; rescuing the Princess is his way in but well before the wedding is planned he's made away with the kingdom's worldly wealth. He's been getting away with it for years when three of his victims meet at a wedding, start talking, and then start plotting.

It works because Jade Linwood knows her source material, doesn't mess around with romance, and gives her characters some nuance. It's a fair assumption that a set of lady's who have respectively been blessed by any number of good fairies (a relative term) along with one bad one, can charm the birds from the trees and speak their language, and lived their lives with a formidable witch they had the wit to escape from will have an impressive revenge seeking skill set. And so it is. 

The magic of Fairy tales is that they evolve with every telling, Linwood references everything from the Grimm's, Perrault, and Gabrrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve through to Disney and plenty of versions in between with her own particular twist on top. Do these Princesses need a bit of rescuing, yes - they do. Does the Prince need to promise to marry them - well, the story demands it and stories are powerful things, especially where actual fae are involved, but nobody enjoys being made a fool of or being cheated out of the better part of their wealth.

It's a funny book that jogs along at a decent pace - it could have been slightly more tightly edited but the world-building and storytelling are so much fun and so much part of the point of the book that it's a moot point. The heroines are enjoyably imperfect, their growing friendship is heartwarming, Prince Charming has enough charm to carry off being a cad (he has reasons or something) and it's what I think of as a perfect holiday book* - one that I could share with a whole lot of people of all sorts of ages and tastes and safely assume that they'd all get something out of it. 

Like Travis Baldree's books, this has enough heart to it as well as humour to make me feel like it's a keeper rather than a throwaway one-time read. I read it when I was feeling particularly low and it cheered me up, I'll keep it on my rainy-day shelf for the next time I need a good-quality pick-me-up. 

*I know that on the one hand this os old fashioned - there's no real need to pack physical books anymore or consider sharing them, but I see plenty of families shopping for books that 2 or more generations will read and I'll always think it's a nice thing to do. 

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