Jim C. Hines
Completed 10/13/2019, Reviewed 10/13/2019
On the cover of this book, there’s a quote from the Green Man Review that is very accurate. It says that this book (or possibly the whole “Princess” series) “…brilliantly remixes fairy-tale elements with a modern action/adventure sensibility, as if the Brothers Grimm had been allowed to watch a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ marathon.” That’s what you get: three powerful women trained in the marital arts and magic fighting fairies, demons, and evil in general. There’s lots of sly remarks and funny asides, but basically, this is an action/adventure novel. And it’s fluff. Nothing about it is great, but there’s a lot of good stuff in it. I once tried to read the first novel in the series for Book Club, and put it down. It was too much fluff. I gave this third entry in the series a better effort because it was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum Award in 2011. I didn’t love it, but I liked it.
The premise of the series is that Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella are three rough and tumble princesses who fight evil in their world. In this book, Sleeping Beauty is being pursued by an assassin who turns out to be Red Riding Hood. They capture her, find out who bought Red for this mission, magically bind Red to help them, and then attempt to confront the instigator. But the plot is a little more complex than that, it turns out the instigator is a fairy feigning serving a queen who usurped Sleeping Beauty’s throne and commands an army of the undead, called the Hunt. To get to the queen, the four must destroy the fairy and disperse the Hunt as it pursues them.
There isn’t much character development in this book. Any that might have occurred probably happened in the previous books. But I don’t expect there was necessarily a lot of it. The characters are rather cardboard and cartoonish, not unlike “Charlie’s Angels”. There is some depth to them, but they are basically strong, self-sufficient women. Sleeping Beauty, whose real name is Talia, is a lesbian. She has feelings for Snow (her real name), but comes across an old love during their travels. Snow is straight, but feels a loss when Talia meets up with her old flame. Cinderella, whose real name is Danielle has a husband and son. Roudette (Red Riding Hood) is a hard-core assassin, with little need for emotions. And that’s about all the emotional connection you get from them. But what they lack in depth, they make up for in action.
Normally, this wouldn’t be my type of book. I think if I wasn’t trying hard to read through the LGBTQ Spec Fic Resource list I curated for Worlds Without End, I would have put this book down, like the first. But I stuck with it and I have to say it was kinda fun. The books from this series would make great action flicks. I give this book three stars out of five because it is good. I probably won’t read any more from this series, though because straight-forward action/adventure is not my cup of tea, even with positive LGBTQ content and strong women characters, like this one has. But for the average person, I would recommend this series as great fluff.