The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning is a well-written, if basic, retelling of The Princess Bride. When Princess Amarande’s childhood friend and stable boy, Luca, is stolen away from her palace by a ragtag team of land pirates hired by an opposing kingdom, she doesn’t stop to think before rushing off to save him. With her rule in jeopardy and her love held as ransom, Amarande must find a way to secure both Luca and her crown.
Amarande is a great protagonist, and Luca a very sweet love interest, but I didn’t care for their relationship. They didn’t get enough time together on page (while talking), and while I can understand why they love each other logically, I wasn’t driven to care for their plight, especially in the early chapters. The lack of development before the kidnapping spoiled that aspect of the novel for me, as I’d wanted to see more of Ama and Luca together before being forced to feel anything about their separation. This was unfortunate as their love for each other is a substantial driving force for both characters throughout the story. However, I appreciated their dedication to each other and, if anything, how it added depth to each of them as separate characters.
Princess Amarande is a very serious, capable protagonist who’s the perfect balance of driven and wry. The third-person perspective brings a bit of distance to her character from the reader, which is unfortunate, but that distance fits her role as a warrior queen. At first, I did think she was a bit too perfect, but being brought up by a ruler who was very wise, and having been given the best opportunities for learning and training herself, it isn’t too surprising that she’s so skilled. Her love for Luca was important to her character, not for growth (because her character doesn’t develop much at all, similar to Luca), but to show a different side of her to the reader, and to more clearly display her dedication to both her kingdom and the people she loves.
Luca’s perspective is more infrequent, but we can still get a good idea of who he is, at least in relation to Amarande. His faith in her love for him and her abilities is so sweet and warmed me to their relationship more than Ama’s perspective did. I loved his character as a love interest because of his kindness and how much he trusted Ama to lead, I just wish we’d been able to see him when he wasn’t with her/acting with her in mind as we did throughout the story. He’s the rare breed of male YA love interest who doesn’t spend 95% of his time mysteriously brooding and the other 5% scowling at the protagonist he’s hiding vital information from, so we stan. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we love those love interests too, but a little variety is nice.
While Amarande also had her kingdom to worry about, Luca’s life revolves around her. This set up a situation that’s a bit less interesting, at least when it comes to his perspective. Luckily, it seems like that’s going to change in the sequel, which is half the reason I’m planning on reading it. The side characters that stood out to me, such as the pirates and Talifer, were very well done. While they are fairly one-dimensional, they made the story much more fun and brought out different sides of the two main characters. I really want to see them take bigger roles in the plot of book two.
The Princess Will Save You has largely a journey-based plot, with plenty of politicking going on in the background. I found the plot as a whole to be a bit basic, and at times, rather boring, though it definitely picks up at the very end. Besides the more feminist take, the novel is very similar to many others of its kind in both setting and plot.
The writing itself wasn’t spectacular, but I think the author did a great job expressing character motivations and bringing the reader into their world. It’s very atmospheric and definitely plants you in the ye olde renaissance times as the movie does. While I appreciated Amarande and the author’s writing style, I didn’t connect enough with her or her relationship with Luca to balance out the disappointment of the plot itself and the unfortunate lack of humor. In the end, the princess might’ve been able to save her stable boy, but she wasn’t quite able to do the same for this book. I only hope the sequel won’t need saving at all because I still plan on reading it.