Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Carry On meets Arthurian legend in this funny, subversive young adult fantasy about what happens after the chosen one wins the kingdom and has to get married to keep it…and to stay alive.
Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.
As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.
With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.
This was so cute and funny! I love how F. T. Lukens takes the chosen one trope and just plays with it and turns it on its head. You have the chaotic group of questers (chosen one, mage, bard, knight, rogue, guard), but instead of beginning as they are setting out on a quest, the story begins at the end, immediately after the quest has been completed. The moment where everyone looks around at each other and goes, “Now what?”
In some ways, this is a found family story of a reluctant king and his loyal friends getting on their feet and fumbling their way into figuring out how to rule the kingdom they took back from the evil wizard. In many ways, this is a book about pining. Arek is quite obviously pining for his best friend Matt. Matt is pining for Arek. It’s quite obvious from the first pages. Since they’re both oblivious idiots, however, it takes them rather a while to figure things out.
The writing was clever and funny, and it was easy to just let myself flow along with the story and enjoy it. It’s fun. I recommend it when you need to laugh and find yourself craving oblivious idiots pining for each other over hundreds of pages. (What, just me?)
*Thanks to NetGalley and Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing an e-arc for review.