Hello, everyone! I’m excited to be reviewing So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens. This book was one of my most anticipated releases of the spring, and I almost jumped for joy whenever I got the approval email from NetGalley. Did it live up to my expectations? Read on below to find out!
Carry On meets Arthurian legend in this funny, subversive young adult fantasy about what happens after the chosen one wins the kingdom and has to get married to keep it…and to stay alive.
Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.
As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.
With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.
***Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I loved this book almost from the moment I picked it up. The wit and humor had me laughing and giggling from the first chapter, which happens to have one of the most hilarious descriptions of a beheading I’ve ever read. The entire book felt like it was word-vomited out of the head of the impulsive, disaster bisexual main character, and that’s a perspective I always enjoy reading. It reminded me a lot of the writing in TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries, which I also loved.
This book was exactly what you would expect from reading the synopsis except for the comp to Arthurian legend. There were some superficial similarities to Arthurian characters, but the plot was not even remotely related to the legend. There weren’t really any other surprises, though, and the story was a pretty predictable best friends to lovers romance. The entire plot hinged on the miscommunication trope, which I normally don’t enjoy. However, I actually liked it here because the trope was used to deliver some pretty funny moments that kept me laughing even if all I wanted to do was scream at the characters for being so dense.
As for the fantasy elements, they were largely fun and whimsical in nature, and it definitely didn’t seem like the book took itself too seriously. The kingdom was called Chickpea for goodness sake. So, you won’t find any hardcore world-building or complicated magic systems in this book. It read more like a fairy tale than a fantasy tome, and I never believed any of the characters were in any danger, even though a few of the situations were pretty gnarly. There was just enough world-building to create the background needed for the romance, but nothing more. I enjoyed this because it didn’t add a ton of complexity when it wasn’t necessary. Although, I wouldn’t have been mad at seeing Arek do a little more ruling/governing because I love stories that explore the transition of chosen one to ruler, especially when they are as reluctant to take on the role as Arek was.
The characters and their interactions were a joy to read despite being mostly one dimensional. The only characters that felt somewhat realistic were Matt and Arek. The rest served their purpose as the backdrop for their fairy tale romance, but they all contributed something unique to the group and the overall found family feel of the story, as well. The interactions while Arek tried to woo each of them were funny, and the little moments he had with each of his friends made me like them a lot even if though they weren’t super deep or complex characters. I also really appreciated all the queer rep (there was a lot!) amongst the characters and loved that the world was one where queer people were simply accepted.
Overall, this was definitely a comfort read for me. It wasn’t too complicated and had a great sense of humor. If you are looking for a queer fantasy romance that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you might love this book. I know I did despite it having elements I don’t typically love (It is probably because Arek related to my own inner disaster bisexual. lol). Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars!