The Rules of Ever After

256p. ebook available. Interlude. Jun. 2015. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781941530351.
Gr 9 Up—Set in the fictional kingdoms of Clarameer, this book riffs on popular fairy tales to create a jumbled mess of damsels in distress, flirtatious minstrels, and confused princes. Prince Phillip is expected to soon wed a princess although he secretly fancies gentlemen over ladies. Only a princess who can feel a pea under a pile of mattresses can marry the forlorn royal. Much to his surprise, he finds a young man on the tower of mattresses one night. What follows is a series of tongue-in-cheek adventures with a cavalcade of archetypal fairy tale characters. Although this LGBTQ twist on "The Princess and the Pea" strikes a subversive cord, its true dissidence lies in the running theme, which suggests that one should save oneself rather than passively wait for a handsome prince to do so. Unfortunately, the writing falls flat. None of the characters have an original voice, the tone remains monotonous, and the pacing is unnecessarily slow. Readers looking for well-developed characters will be sadly disappointed.
VERDICT Readers who love fractured fairy tales and fantastical rom-coms may enjoy this novel, although there are many others in the genre that outshine this one.

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