Review: The Crownless Prince

As a member of the street team for Once Upon a Prince, an upcoming collaborative series of gender-bent fairy tale retellings, I get to take advantage of some amazing perks. One such perk includes early ARCs of the books from the series, such as The Crownless Prince by Selina R. Gonzalez, a gender swap of "Maid Maleen." This book won't be available to the public until December 1st, so it was a real treat to get to read it so soon. "Maid Maleen" had not been a very popular story until Brittany Ficther's retelling, The Seven Years Princess, which likely inspired many authors to realize its potential for adaptations. Selina's version did a better job with the story by coming up with a more believable explanation for elements that made less sense in The Seven Years Princess and incorporated it in a creative way by turning Maid Maleen into a prince named Marcus.
As punishment for loving a princess from an enemy kingdom, Prince Marcus was imprisoned in an enchanted tower with his best friend, Edwin. The punishment was supposed to last for seven long years, but fortunately for them, the enchantment wore off after only four. When the two escaped, they learn that their kingdom had already been conquered and that Princess Adriana's father had sent an assassin to get rid of Marcus so she could marry a more suitable prospect. Heartbroken and defeated, Marcus is ready to move on by accepting work as a servant for Lord Thorne, who he never met, and signing a questionable contract. To his dismay, he learns that Lord Thorne is betrothed to his beloved Adrianna, and she is in terrible danger of suffering his violent temper if he cannot stop the marriage in time.

This story does a great job of turning the heroine from the fairy tale into a man without making him come off as a damsel in distress. Though he is heartbroken for a good portion of the book, he takes on an active role in cheating his fate with Edwin's help. The two make a fantastic team through their resourcefulness in always staying one step ahead of the enemy. When Marcus learns of Adriana's plight, he wastes no time in seeking her out and coming up with a plan to defeat Lord Thorne. Marcus's relationship with Adriana is enhanced by little details from their past that only the two of them know about, such as how he used to visit her in secret by climbing up her trellis and their familiarity with each other's companions.

I also liked how this story handled the swap at the end better than other adaptations of "Maid Maleen," in which Maleen is forced to stand in to marry her beloved against her will. It makes more sense that the main character would be marrying their beloved as a ploy against the wicked prospect instead. The only reason it worked in the original story is that the new bride didn't know that Maleen was the prince's former lover, but even then, things worked out all too conveniently. There were also some new themes that were introduced in this version such as being careful about signing contracts that seem unfair and not trusting people who are cruel to their employees. Overall, this book enhances the original fairy tale in an appealing way and makes me eager to read more gender-swapped fairy tales by other authors in this series.

The Crownless Prince by Selina R. Gonzalez presents a captivating gender-bent retelling of "Maid Maleen" in the Once Upon a Prince collaborative series. With early access to this ARC, I was immersed in the story of Marcus, the prince-turned-prisoner, and his determined journey to rescue Princess Adriana from a treacherous fate. The book highlights his resilience and resourcefulness alongside his loyal companion, Edwin. His relationship with Princess Adriana is filled with poignant memories and shared secrets that add depth to their quest. The story cleverly addresses the challenges of swapping roles and offers a more plausible resolution, while introducing new themes of contractual caution and mistrust of cruelty. The Crownless Prince will be available to the public on December 1st with more gender-swapped retellings from this inspired series coming later this year.


Sugar said…
I'm glad that fairy tale retellings are still popular and more books are coming out!

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