Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Queer Rep: Bisexual, Gay
Warnings: Memories of/references to homophobia
Ostracized by his family for his sexual identity, Prince Stephan is forced to flee his homeland before his older brother ascends the throne.
Stephan has been drawn to feminine things for as long as he can remember, so when the dire need for secrecy arises, he seizes the chance to don the perfect disguise. With the help of his loyal servant, Stephan picks his way through hostile territory, hiding his identity by posing as a woman. His only hope for asylum lies with the man who had been his friend and lover three years ago. But when that man also happens to be the crown prince of a rival country, things are a bit more complicated.
With war looming on the horizon, the danger of discovery grows by the moment. With all odds stacked against him, will Stephan find a safe place where he can be his true self, or is he doomed to remain a castaway?
I have been thirsty for fantasy lately, and this novella called to me from the internet. Pretty writing? Check. Decadent descriptions of palaces? Check. An undercover prince attempting to reunite with his past lover? CHECK. And of course, there’s a ball.
The plot was simple, but perfectly suited for a piece this length. Not to mention that while simple, the stakes for our protagonist were still very high: discovery could mean death, whether by foreign dignitary hands or his own family’s. Stephan is taking his very best shot in the dark, and we can only wait to see where it lands.
I didn’t know which way this story was going to go, love interest wise, which was fantastic. I love being surprised! I love waiting for the moment when everything clicks into place! I was able to excitedly anticipate the next step for the entirety of the novella while enjoying beautiful scenery and stolen glances.
My only real issue with the overarching plot was that I do wish I’d known Stephan’s plan. When he took that shot in the dark, what was the best case scenario for him? It seemed like… not a great plan, but I was invested and interested enough to wave it aside.
Beautifully written, with an imaginative palace built right over a river. I loved all the descriptions, and the flow of writing was truly elegant. Adler’s prose was exactly what my fantasy-craving heart desired.
Truth be told, I fell in love with Stephan. The way he responds to sadness—with petty venom and anger—is so much like me it felt like a personal attack. I related to him on a level that made me ache; I saw him and his suffering so clearly, and understood the following regret just as well. A character with that sort of reality stitched into him is bound to steal my heart.
I saw some other reviews complain about length. I will be honest and say knowing this novella has a sequel (which is out now and, yes, I did buy it) may have influenced my opinion in an even more positive direction. As a standalone it might have felt slightly lacking somewhere (hard to say, as that’s not how I read it), but knowing this was just the beginning—a jumping-off point for the characters I came to love—gave me the sensation of starting a new, exciting journey.
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You can order The Castaway Prince here:
From NineStar Press: ebook
From Amazon.com: ebook