A MelanieM Review: The Henchmen of Zenda (Classics Queered) by K.J. Charles

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Swordfights, lust, betrayal, murder: just another day for a henchman.

Jasper Detchard is a disgraced British officer, now selling his blade to the highest bidder. Currently that’s Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. Michael wants the throne for himself, and Jasper is one of the scoundrels he hires to help him take it. But when Michael makes his move, things don’t go entirely to plan—and the penalty for treason is death.

Rupert of Hentzau is Michael’s newest addition to his sinister band of henchmen. Charming, lethal, and intolerably handsome, Rupert is out for his own ends—which seem to include getting Jasper into bed. But Jasper needs to work out what Rupert’s really up to amid a maelstrom of plots, swordfights, scheming, impersonation, desire, betrayal, and murder.

Nobody can be trusted. Everyone has a secret. And love is the worst mistake you can make.

A retelling of the swashbuckling classic The Prisoner of Zenda from a very different point of view.

I’m of two minds in writing this review and they battled it out when it came to the rating.  In the end, style won over lack of enjoyment.  Did I enjoy this story? No.  Did I think that K.J. Charles captured the feel, tone, and style of the original novel,The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), by Anthony Hope?  Absolutely and gave it the decided Charles twist on characters and storyline. That’s is the 4 star rating here.

But there’s really nothing that Charles can do to cover up the fact that at times both Zendas fall prey to just too many complications for its own good.  Two many layers of plotting, too much ‘downtime’ in activity’ before something actually happens, and for those looking for romance, just don’t.  There isn’t any.  Sex yes, action yes towards the end, but love and romance no.  It’s not that sort of story.

I admire how true K.J. Charles remains to the original novel while putting a “queer” twist to such a classic.  It comes off rather well as an adventure tale but, even knowing the story, I had a hard time connecting with it, stopping over and over before finally committing to read it  to the end.  And those expecting a romantic couple at the end here…well you shouldn’t. More like old friends still adventuring together.

So again.  Didn’t enjoy the story but throughly appreciated the manner in which the author wrote the tale.  Thought the writing was beautifully done within the framework given.  You decide if this is something you would enjoy.

Cover art is perfect for the story.  Love how vibrant and eyecatching it is.

Sales Link:   Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 15th 2018 by KJC Books
Edition LanguageEnglish