What’s that old saying? Every story has already been told? Maybe, if you’re thinking in generalities, but writers don’t think that way. Yeah, we know stories follow certain rules: boys meets girl and falls in love, prophesied hero/heroine saves the world, good triumphs over bad, yada yada. But we’re great believers that rules are basically guidelines, not hard and fast facts, which is why creating stories is such a rush for us. We’re constantly trying to craft a story that blows the expected out of the water. Recently that particular truth smacked me right in the face when I picked up a new to me read from Cassandra Gannon titled: THE KINGPIN OF CAMELOT.
One of the biggest goals when I sit down to create a story is to come at the story from a unique angle, be it the characters, the setting, plot twists, or some combination of any of the above. Ms. Gannon took tales we all grew up with, mashed them together so our various casts all existed in the same world, threw in some modern world spices, mixed in some tongue-in-cheek humor, and fired the ovens with wicked creativity. Viola–a three book series known as A Kinda Fairytale. Appropriately I started with the last book and worked my way backwards (and it still worked). So I picked up THE KINGPIN OF CAMELOT first, and once hooked, couldn’t stop there. Too often the heroines of fairytales tend to wring their hands or wait for their prince to come, but not so in Ms. Gannon’s world. Oh no, because no heroine can waste time waiting for her knight to clue in, better she step up and make sure things happen–even if her way takes a few turns down darker roads. Still, these are great books. Let’s start with KINGPIN.
The Queen: Guinevere must save Camelot. Ever since Arthur died, the evil Scarecrow has been trying to marry her and gain the crown. If she and her daughter are going to survive his mad schemes, Gwen needs to find Merlyn’s wand. Fast. Unfortunately, the only man strong enough to help her on her quest is Kingpin Midas, a flashy, uneducated mobster dealing with a curse. Gwen is a logical, rational woman, though, and she can draft one hell of a contract. She’s pretty sure she can come up with an offer not even the kingdom’s greatest villain can refuse.
The Kingpin: Anything Midas touches turns to gold. Literally. The curse has helped him to rule Camelot’s underworld with an iron fist. He has more money and more power than anyone else in the kingdom. He’s convinced there’s nothing he can’t buy. One look at Gwen and Midas knows that he’s about to make his most brilliant purchase, yet. He’s about to own the one woman in the world he would give anything to possess. All he has to do to claim her is somehow win a war against the smartest man in Camelot, hide his growing feelings from Gwen, deal with his overprotective bodyguard’s paranoia about the queen’s hidden motivations, and adjust to a five year old demanding bedtime stories from a gangster. Simple, right?
The Contract: Gwen’s deal is simple: If Midas marries her, she’ll make him King of Camelot. It’s a fair bargain. Midas will keep her enemies away and she’ll give him the respectability that money can’t buy. She never expects Midas to agree so quickly. Or for their practical business arrangement to feel so… complicated. Midas isn’t the tawdry, feral animal that Arthur railed against. He’s a kind and gentle man, who clearly needs Gwen’s help just as much as she needs his. In fact, the longer she’s around Midas the more Gwen realizes that their “fake marriage” might be more real than she ever imagined.
Those who’ve been around know my love and appreciation for fairy tales runs deep, but I think I’m girl crushing on Ms. Gannon at this point. KINGPIN is a wickedly intelligent twist on the Arthurian legends. First, Arthur is not the king we all know and love, second his long suffering wife Gwen could give some of our modern heroines a run in the kick ass department. It doesn’t help she’s trying to outwit the narcissistic egomaniac Scarecrow and ends up in Midas’s underground kingdom. And Gwen, she could give a lawyer a run or two for their money on contract law. When Gwen and Midas join forces, the mayhem, sly humor and general fun will ensure you don’t put this book down until you hit the end. And when you’re done, you’ll be back, picking up the other tales–like the one where Scarlett hooks up with Wolf because her evil sister Cinderella is being a massive bitch (WICKED UGLY BAD) or the one where Bella overthrows Beast, who’s been making her life hell since kindergarten, but Beast isn’t one to tuck tail and run (BEAST IN SHINING ARMOR). So if you’re looking for some damn good fairy tales, you have to check out Cassandra Gannon’s A Kinda Fairtytale series, I promise you won’t regret it.