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// Genre & Themes: fantasy, LGBTQIA+, YA
// Trigger Warnings: Internalized acephobia\arophobia, acephobia\arophobia
// Publisher: NineStar Press
// Synopsis: At age eighteen, when they become marriageable, all royal children in the Thousand Kingdoms must either go questing to rescue another royal or be hidden away to await rescue themselves. Some go the traditional route of princes rescuing princesses, but not all princes want to be rescuers…and some would rather rescue other princes.
Then there’s Prince Gerald, who has no interest in getting married at all. When he refuses to choose a role as either rescuer or rescuee, his royal parents choose for him and have him magicked away to a distant tower to await a spouse.
Gerald, however, is having none of it. He recruits his guardian dragon and a would-be rescuer and soon the trio is dashing to all corners of the united kingdoms on a quest to overturn the entire system.
Royal Rescue has a great setting. We see plenty of magical creatures and different enviorments, but it’s also queer-normative world with many POC and LGBTQ+ characters, and there’s even gender-neutral royals who use the term princex which I LOVE.
I liked Gerald for the most part. He has a great connection with the other male main characters of the story—Erik and Omar. Their dynamic felt very real and their dialogue wasn’t forced. And I loved the exploration of a queerplatonic relationship.
Admittedly, he’s a little bit of a downer. Now, I get it—I’m asexual, and I get how incredibly disheartening acephobia is. But I’m also a “don’t mope” kind of person from a “pick yourself up” kind of family, and I don’t believe in talking badly about yourself for an extended period of time. He spends 95% of the book down on himself for everything, and I think some people will have a problem with that.
All that said *calming breath* all the women in this book were one-dimensional bullies. All the women main characters were portrayed the same—they pick on Gerald, they’re arophobic, they’re pushy, they’re mean, they steamroll conversations, and everyone else is like “well, we can’t stop them I guess we have to let them finish *shrug\eye roll*”. And the women side characters who weren’t characterized that way were just passive.
All of them existed just to be acephobic\arophobic to Gerald and that’s it. There wasn’t any depth to anyone—not even his mom or sister. We’re told that they have depth, and that their feelings on Gerald are complicated, but we’re never shown that.
The men and non-binary characters had personalities and differences, and the women didn’t (besides their looks) and that really frustrated me. In the end, it dragged the book down and made it hard for me to enjoy the book.
Overall, I gave Royal Rescue three stars. I did enjoy it, and I thought it was cute, and I related to a lot of Gerald’s thoughts and reactions in terms of asexuality. But the portrayal of women really brought the book down for me, so I gave it a 3. Solid, but not perfect.