So This Is Ever After

Margaret K. McElderry/S. & S./. Mar. 2022. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534496866.
Gr 8 Up–After defeating the evil usurper of the throne of Ere in the land of Chickpea, Arek agrees to temporarily become king while he and his party search for the true living heir to the throne. Unfortunately for him, the heir perished while locked in a tower, and Arek finds himself magically bound to the crown. Incidentally, the person who holds the throne of Ere must marry before their 18th birthday—and Arek turns 18 in just three months. Not wanting to pressure his best friend, whom Arek is in love with, the new king instead sets out to casually woo every other member of the party in turn, following the guidance of the long-dead princess’s journal. Much in the way that TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries plays off superhero tropes, Lukens relies on the audience’s knowledge of and expectations for fantasy to fill in much of the worldbuilding, orienting the story firmly around Arek’s attempts to find a spouse. The attempts themselves are humorous, and since the plot is structured like a fairy tale, the ending is satisfying but unsurprising. Similarly, the characters have the same dynamic as a well-organized Dungeons & Dragons party and are well rounded and easy to root for. Most characters are queer, and there is no homophobia in the land of Chickpea.
VERDICT Purchase for tabletop RPG fans and where fantasy titles are popular.

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