- Title: Pauper King
- Author: E. Stuart Marlowe
- Series: N/A
- Genre: Mystery, Thriller and Suspense
- Publishing Date: April 1st, 2020
- Publishing Co.: Indie
- Length: 470 pages
- Format: Kindle Unlimited, Paperback
- Acquired: Given free paperback in exchange for an honest review
- Amazon Link: Pauper King
X Snow White is dead.
IX Someone has put a pickaxe through her head.
VIII Her father, the disgraced King Johannes Wynpenny, vows to hunt down her murderer.
VII But then others die—more beloved fairy tale characters—and now it’s clear that a deranged killer is on the loose.
VI Someone who leaves behind taunting clues and a cruel countdown.
V Someone seeking revenge.
IV As his town is swept by witch hunt hysteria, Johannes must stop the maniac before others fall victim…
III …including himself.
II E. Stuart Marlowe weaves a tale of magical realism and crime, where fantasy and horror bleed into historical fact.
I And where the fables from our past speak to us across the centuries.
Final Judgment: 3 Stars out of 5
Trigger Warning: Graphic and grisly violence, graphic sexual content, other adult content
In this dark murder mystery, Marlowe brings our fairytales into a whole new light. All residing in the same world, the stories we were told as children are not quite what they seem… In this world, Snow White, Goldilocks, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, all are recreated into something that the stories hadn’t told us. A serial killer has been on a rampage in this world, destroying all that is good. Johannes–the former King–and his friends must find the killer and bring him–or her–to justice before the work is done. Luckily, they have clues to help them along the way. It seems that the killer is counting down from 10, meaning that Johannes and his crew know how many are left to save.
First off, this book is extremely graphic. It contains many instances of overly twisted and grisly violence, where humans are incinerated, exploded, turned to mush, etc. Be prepared for lots of blood and intestines flying your way. Personally, I do not mind the gore, and so I thought it added a bit of an edge to the otherwise lovely fantasy stories and characters that we have come to know so well. I enjoyed that there was a much darker twist to the stories–things that we never see as children. I have to admit it was a bit exciting.
Unfortunately, I found both the mystery/suspense element of the novel as well as its characters to be lacking. There was barely any mystery to the novel. The characters were on the hunt for the killer, but even with clues landing right in front of their faces, they were unable to do any actual investigating on their own. I do not want to spoil the story, but in the end, they had to have the answer blatantly shoved into their faces in order to actually do something. Rather than being a mystery, this novel felt more like a series of short adventure stories. I was severely disappointed with how unnecessary and pointless their “missions” were. Johannes and his crew went on several mini missions, each acting almost like a series of shorts in isolation from the rest. If this book were visual media, it would make a much better TV show than movie.
As for the characters, I was unable to attach any personal emotion or connection to any of them. I did not care whether they lived or died, or what choices they made. This most likely tainted the story the most for me, as I want to be able to feel my characters. I want to live the story with them. Since I was unable to do this, as none struck any sort of empathy or other emotion from me, I did not fully immerse myself in the story.
I also want to note that this is a rather large novel. The pacing seemed extremely slow for its length, and each little mission seemed to be pointless. I would have much rather the novel have been halved to make it more engaging for my own reading.
I did really enjoy the writing style, however. It was obviously written from a fairytale point of view. The language and writing itself was very reminiscent to a traditional fairytale. The comedic relief character also uttered several snappy one-liners that tended to make me laugh.
Overall, this was an interesting book, and one that I recommend to those who enjoy long novels, blood and gore, and a slow burn in a fairytale world. It was not quite engaging enough for me, but I was still able to finish it in only a few days!