For some reason, I never took the plunge to grab this fairy tale reimagining by Drew Hayes. I follow a podcast of his where he’s the DM of a bunch of authors playing DND (rather badly but hilariously) so I’ve heard him promote it often enough.
All that changed this month though because I was armed with an Audible credit I didn’t know how to use and a two-for-one offer I couldn’t pass up. So I quickly snatched up this and one other and got to listening.
It’s safe to say I wish I hadn’t waited so long! Why? Because I could have listened to it multiple times by now and probably picked up more and more nuanced details Mr Hayes throws in at every turn. This book is filled with fairy tale folks you’d be familiar with, even if they’re sometimes hidden (at first) behind double-talk or deliberate vagueness. From the title onwards, pay close attention and you might enjoy working out some of the finer points along the way.
Our band of heroes, the Bastard Champions (Jack, Frank, and Marie) take on the jobs nobody else wants. They’re tolerated in towns for as long as it takes to get the job done, then quickly need to move on lest the townsfolk start thinking too hard about who they are.
Frank is probably my favourite of the three. So eloquent, so reserved, yet so thoroughly capable of the unimaginable. I could listen to his voice all day though.
As mentioned further up, Hayes blends in fairy tales you’re familiar with into an entirely unique plot that still holds true to the “Narrative” of the universe (the Narrative, an unseen force which keeps the fairy tale lands in check to ensure the tales as old as time are told true to form).
Each chapter is its own story within the overall arc of the whole. I can’t heap enough praise onto Hayes or the voice cast – Scott Aiello, Marc Vietor, and Tavia Gilbert – who all join together to bring this wonderfully dark yet wholesome fairy tale to life.
I’ll definitely be listing to this one again as soon as I can!