Guest Post: The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning
One of my favorite movies growing up was The Princess Bride and I still consider it one of my favorites of all time. I was wondering – what can a fan like me expect in The Princess Will Save You, Sarah Henning’s gender flipped retelling? Find out below and be sure you pick up this series opener, out now!
The Princess Will Save You (The Princess Will Save You, #1)by Sarah Henning
Published by: Tor Teen
on July 7, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
A STABLE BOY
When her father dies, Princess Amarande is given an ultimatum: Marry the leader of one of the four neighboring kingdoms, or lose her crown—and possibly her life. And to force her hand, her beloved, the stable boy Luca, is kidnapped.
But Amarande was raised to be a warrior, not a sacrifice.
And nothing will stop her from saving her true love and rescuing her kingdom.
The acclaimed author of Sea Witch turns the classic damsel-in-distress tale on its head with this story of adventure, identity, and love.
Guest Post with Sarah Henning
The Princess Bride is also one of my all-time favorites! I’ve watched it so many times that I’ve lost count. In fact, it was one of the DVDs I brought with me to the hospital when I had my first child almost twelve years ago! (They didn’t have good streaming then, people!) I literally sat there, propped up in my hospital bed, twenty-four hours after giving birth, snuggling with my newborn while watching the Man in Black cross swords with Inigo.
And because it’s one of my favorites, The Princess Bride was a huge inspiration for The Princess Will Save You! But I must say, I actually don’t consider my book to be a retelling. Like my debut duology, Sea Witch and Sea Witch Rising, this book has elements of a retelling but isn’t actually one in the truest sense.
Rather, it’s a love letter to all the things I adore about William Goldman’s spin the classic damsel-in-distress fairytale—True love! Sword fights! Mouthy pirates!—as well as an examination of the one thing about the story that I found more and more frustrating as I grew into adulthood: Buttercup’s character arc.
Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie or read the book, just FYI!
Early on in the story, and even in the middle, Buttercup is feisty and speaks her mind. She’s been plucked from her common life to be a princess, and from the outside has everything a girl could ever want, but still she’s willing to push back, because she knows her life is empty without the one thing she believes she’ll never have: her true love, Westley, who she believes dead at the hands of the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Of course, Buttercup gets the shock of her life when, after being stolen away by pirates, she finds out her true love is not only alive, but he’s bested her kidnappers and come to rescue her from not only them, but her husband-to-be, the vapid Prince Humperdinck.
That feeling of freedom doesn’t last long, because Humperdinck tracks them down and threatens to kill Westley. Buttercup agrees to marry Humperdinck, if he’ll spare Westley.
But here’s where my frustration comes in: After her sham of a wedding to Humperdinck, Buttercup has given up on everything. Somehow she has managed to secure not only a dagger but also a private room, and decides that she must end it—a future with the traitorous Humperdinck is far too bleak without the hope of ever seeing Westley again.
The Buttercup we met at the beginning of this story, or even in the middle of it, would’ve taken that dagger and fought her way out of the castle and to Westley. And yet she didn’t.
When I decided to write my own take on a fairytale, I chose to address the discomfort I had with Buttercup’s character arc and inaction—and that of other damsel-type characters
—in my own way.
The result is gender-flipped, yes, because I have quite a few points to make about the damsel in distress trope and hyper-patriarchal society.
The Princess Will Save You is the story of Princess Amarande of Ardenia, whose commoner true love, a stable boy named Luca, is kidnapped in a bid to push her into a political marriage. But rather than play the game, she changes it—setting out to rescue Luca, and possibly her kingdom’s future in the process.
On Amarande’s quest, you’ll find sword fights, pirates of questionable talents, and a pursuit within a pursuit. There are scheming princes, potions, and smart women who want more despite an extremely patriarchal society. There are beasts, a fairytale setting that both feels familiar and faraway, and science that borders on magic. And, of course, my upside-down take on the damsel, where, yes, the princess is doing the rescuing but my stolen stable boy is no shrinking violet either.
The Princess Will Save You really is a love letter to Buttercup, Westley, Inigo, and all the rest of the fairytale characters—new and old—who have kept us in comfort in all stages of our lives, and have us dreaming of a happily ever after where true love happens literally every day. I hope you enjoy it!