Book Review: Charming by Jade Linwood

*Thank you Solaris / NetGalley for this ARC!

Forget Damsels in Distress and passive princesses waiting for their true love to show up. This is a book about the princesses who are doing it for themselves. What is that “it”, I hear you say? Why, getting revenge against Prince Charming of course.

Described as ‘John Tucker Must Die’ meets Shrek, this novel by Jade Linwood is an absolute riot. Bursting with dry humour and vibrant characters, the book follows three jilted princesses whom you know from the fairy tales – Sleeping Beauty (“Bella Lucia dei’ Sogni”), Snow White (“Marie Blanche de Neige”), and Rapunzel (“Doctor Emilia Rapunzel”) – as they team up and work to track down and exact revenge on Prince Charming for robbing their treasuries and hearts.

The idea of “what if Prince Charming was the same person in every fairy tale and what if he was actually a total dick” is a brilliant core idea that glues the story together. The opening scene in particular – where Charming fights some ogres en route to rescue Sleeping Beauty – is side splittingly funny and sets the tone of the rest of the novel perfectly.

Whilst the princesses three are interesting, if a little flat in some parts (‘though I particularly liked Linwood’s take on Rapunzel as a wickedly clever, if ruthless doctor), and Charming is very much your soppy, spoiled but effortlessly charismatic and talented antagonist, it is Roland, Charming’s overlooked, slightly gross and grumbling sidekick, who for me steals the show.

Channelling something of Terry Pratchett’s Nobby Nobbs in appearance and mannerisms , the character of Roland and Charming in general also – much to my surprise – reminds me of my love of Discworld novels and Pratchett’s writing style. Linwood brings an acerbic and fresh witty take on the fairy tale setting, turning classic tales of romance on its head, whilst still including a lot of recognisable tropes and world building that so many of us love.

However, I will say that towards the end of the novel, the plot seems rushed. Linwood is clearly keen to wrap up the storyline she’s placed down in front of readers and as a result, the last minute reveal with certain characters lacks the punch it otherwise could have.

Final verdict:

A hilarious, fresh take on well-known fairy tales, with an enjoyable premise that Linwood really manages to sell. The writing is witty and the setting colourful, all deftly done with a light feminist spin. A joy to read and I’d definitely recommend picking this up.

This book is due out on 18th July 2023.

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