The Prince And The Puppet Thief

A Gay Fairy Tale

Young Adult - Mythology/Fairy Tale
292 Pages
Reviewed on 07/08/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Prince and the Puppet Thief is a work of fiction in the fairytale genre. It is aimed at young adults and was penned by Justin Arnold. The book tells the story of Simon, the son of a fairytale villain who has wound up in the dungeon for what he hopes will be the last time. When Prince Marco becomes smitten with him, the two hatch a plan for Simon to rescue the damsel in distress Marco is destined for. But just as the Prince wasn’t looking for a Princess, Princess Isobel has been hoping for her handmaiden to come to her rescue.

This book was a joyful delight to read from start to finish. Taking all the trappings of the heteronormative classic fairytale and giving it a thoroughly modern LGBTQ+ makeover leaves us with this charming story with all of the charm and whimsy in the world at its fingertips. Justin Arnold is an enchanting storyteller whose prose is fun to read. The characters were excellently considered and presented, each using our expectations of the fairy tale tropes to be playfully subversive and keep readers on their toes. All in all, this is a brilliant story that I immediately wanted to share. A veritable tonic to a bad day of watching the news, this book charms you with its fantasy world and engages you with its cast of fun characters who all riff on the fairytale stock characters we remember from childhood. The Prince and The Puppet Thief is an absolute must-read.

Liz Konkel

The Prince and the Puppet Thief: A Gay Fairy Tale by Justin Arnold is a lighthearted love story that is funny, sweet, and genuine. Simon is nothing like his villainous father Bloody Fingers who has dubbed him Simon the Squirm for a reason. He's no good at being bad and got squirmy when it came to breaking laws. He's especially not good at standing up to his father which is how he found himself crammed into a cannon in an elaborate plan that involved sending him flying into the tower to steal the missing princess's slippers. From the moment he goes flying into the tower, Simon's luck gets worse as he's immediately arrested after disturbing Prince Marco's sleep and carted away to be locked up. Prince Marco has his own problems as it's up to him to rescue the missing princess but he's not sure if he's up to the task so he pays Simon a visit with a plan to send Simon in his place. Nothing goes as planned when they learn that the princess would rather stay away with her handmaiden and Prince Marco finds a surprising connection with Simon.

The story is a delightful take on classic fairy tales with several references woven throughout that add the perfect touches to this world. The fairy tale world has several elements that bring it to life such as Princess Isobel being turned into a puppet, her handmaiden being turned to glass, an attempt at slipper theft, and most importantly, true love's kiss. The writing style has clever humor and bantering dialogue that incorporates bickering, snarky comments, and attitude. Justin Arnold places vivid descriptions into the writing with every phrase adding to the story whether it's for humor, character-building, or scenery. Fine details are crafted in this world with quirky villains, a dashing Prince Charming, a damsel-in-distress, and plenty of tropes woven together to create a fresh voice in the world of fairy tales. Simon is the son of a dangerous villain, though he would rather read and believe in happily ever after. His lack of evil intentions has earned him the name Simon the Squirm which is at the basis of a beautiful arc as he learns the value of being himself.

Each character has a big personality and a rich sense of humor, whether it's a minor character like the self-proclaimed rat shepherd or the leading group of key fairy tale characters. The concept of ever-after is an important element to Simon and within the story, as this is the basis of fairy tales. A feel-good happily ever after, The Prince and the Puppet Thief is charming, original, and hilarious with a laugh-out-loud premise, sweet romance, two love stories, and characters that have enough personality to bring this world to life.

Ruffina Oserio

The Prince and the Puppet Thief: A Gay Fairy Tale by Justin Arnold is an engaging tale with a twisty plot and unforgettable characters. Seventeen-year-old Simon finds himself in the dungeon after a failed attempt to steal the slippers of the lost princess. He plans to take the first opportunity to escape. Princess Isobel is a damsel in distress, and Prince Marco might be the only one to save her, but he has no plans to fall in love with her. When Marco crosses paths with Simon, he is taken by him, and a new plan to rescue the princess from the magician holding her involves Simon taking Marco’s place. But the princess has her own plans, and Simon and Marco find themselves on a course with each other.

The story is infused with humor, and from the start, I was startled and mesmerized by the banter between Simon’s father, Bloody Fingers, and Simon. The reader immediately gets a clear idea that Simon doesn’t want to be his father’s son, and his father looks upon him as a son who can’t steal without getting caught. The writing is excellent, filled with strong imagery and focused scenes and dialogues that are as witty and captivating as they are entertaining. The story is not lacking in drama, and while it is written as a fairy tale, it features characters that feel genuine; they are honestly flawed, and each of them is driven by the strong need for a genuine human connection. Readers will appreciate the author’s skillful development of the concept of the “ever after” in this tale and the adventure that accompanies it. The Prince and the Puppet Thief: A Gay Fairy Tale is a breezy read with LGBTQ themes, memorable characters, and a tightly written and unpredictable plot.