Early Book Review: A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong is the first book in a new middle grade to young adult fantasy series. It is currently scheduled for release on August 6 2019.

Twelve-year-old Rowan is destined to be Queen; her twin brother, Rhydd, to be Royal Monster Hunter. Rowan would give anything to switch places, but the oldest child is always next in line, even if she is only older by two minutes. She resigns herself to admiring her monster hunting aunt's glorious sword and joining her queen mother for boring diplomatic teas. But tragedy shatters the longstanding rule, and Rowan finds herself hunting the most dangerous monster of all: a gryphon. Accompanied by a feisty baby jackalope and a giant wolf that barely tolerates her, Rowan sets off on a journey that will see her join other unlikely allies: a boy with monster-hunting ambitions of his own, and a girl hiding dangerous motives. It will take all of Rowan's skills, both physical and diplomatic, to keep this adventure on track. The future of her kingdom depends on it.

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying might be the tradition hero's quest, but the quirky characters and humor kept it from feeling like it. Rowan is impulsive and stubborn, but she also has a good understanding of her skills and her faults. I like that she learned from her missteps, and even when she knows a choice might not be the smartest, she tries to stick with what she thinks is right. Her brother, mother, and extended crew of family and friends all seem to be cut from the same cloth, looking to do the right thing and protect others as best they can even when things are looking bad for them personally. I liked the introduction and development of the secondary characters that are clearly going to be important as the story continues, although I am already starting to dread the almost inevitable romance that I fear will come in future installments. I love a great romance, but I feel like too often love or crushes are tossed into adventure and fantasy stories as one more problem for characters to deal with rather than just having a solid friendship without romantic implications. It can and should happen in real life, so it would be nice to see it happen more often in stories as well. I did enjoy the story, and thought there were some great moments of humor and inventiveness I was kind of hoping for a little more. I have greatly enjoyed Armstrong's work in the past and I think I was expecting to be blown away but I just was not.

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying is a good story of a strong girl taking control of her future and doing everything she can to help other people (and creatures) along the way.

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