The Charming Tales
Once Upon a Rhyme; Happily Never After
By Jack Heckel.
You guys know by now that I am a fan of fairy tale re-imaginings. So when this series came across my radar thanks to Harper Voyager, I thought it would be right up my alley. And it was.
The series is called The Charming Tales, and as you would expect Prince Edward Charming is one of the main characters. He reminded me quite a bit of the prince from the Shrek movies – arrogant, narcissistic, dramatic, and completely unaware of his own ridiculousness. At least to start with. It’s been prophesied since he was young that he would be the one to defeat the dragon plaguing the kingdom and keeping a beautiful princess captive. He’s in no hurry to start his quest, though, figuring there’s plenty of time to sample life’s pleasures before being saddled with duty (and a princess) for the rest of his life. Until, of course, a simple peasant farmer turns up with the head of the dragon and the rescued princess, and nothing is the same for Charming from that point after. Not least because the farmer, William Pickett, is actually an incredibly decent fellow (if accidental hero), and his sister Elizabeth is at once captivating and unaffected by Charming’s charms. And Gwendolyn, the rescued princess, is quite a bit more than she seems.
It all sets the stage nicely for an adventure romp with magic and romance that tweaks the nose of traditional fairy tales while still being a bona fide fairy tale itself. The four main characters are all set up nicely, have a bit of depth, and have a definite character arc throughout the two books. Charming is probably the most dramatically changed by the end, for the better. And while those four have their own story, there are cameos from other well-known fairy tales: a group of dwarves, a reclusive Beast, a lady with really long, glorious hair. But none of them are quite as depicted in the classic tales, of course. There’s a good amount of humor and snark, and both books are fun, quick reads. I do think they could have been combined into one book, as both were rather short and I didn’t feel a full-book-break between the two was necessary. But overall, an entertaining and amusing pair of books. 🙂
I give the series 4/5 stars.
I was given a promotional copy of book 2 (Happily Never After) by Harper Voyager U.S. for review, but of course had to go and get book 1 to read first.