Prism Tour: Hero

Saturday Woodcutter would publicly declare, and only privately bemoan, that she was the only member of her family who was normal. Not Fey-blessed, not royal or mythic, not practicing magic.

And then she broke the world.

Hero, written by Alethea Kontis, is the story of Saturday Woodcutter – a young woman who no more knows what to do with her magic sword than she knows what to do with her gawky height. She’s supposed to have some sort of destiny, but she doesn’t know what it is. She’s about to find out, though.

I suppose this book is a fantasy, but it reads more like a long fairy tale by a modern author. There are dragons, witches, princesses, fates and curses and gifts.

And magic. Wild, unpredictable magic.

I enjoyed the characters, even the minor characters – from taciturn Mama to beautiful Monday to the heroic Jack. Saturday proved a unique and interesting sort of heroine, and Peregrine managed to capture the pathos, the danger, and the ridiculousness of his situation. I liked Betwixt, too, and the contrast of his odd shapes with his ironic humor, sophisticated manner, and general air of Britishness.

Coming from a large family, I liked the way the author not only made the heroine one of many siblings, but managed to include all her brothers and sisters. Not that they all had a part in the story – some were never even seen – but I had the sense that Saturday’s six sisters were people, and not simply a number. The author gave a brief but vivid glimpse of all of them. It wasn’t just an interesting biographical fact that Saturday came from a large family; it actually mattered to the story.

There were a few things in the novel I didn’t like – the bad language, for one, as well as the scene where Saturday bathes in a lake with no regard for the fact that Peregrine was right there. In the same place, the characters talk about a disease called “living death”, which sounded like Alzheimer’s. One calls it “sensible” for the son of a man so afflicted to wish his father would die and set everybody free. Maybe I took it worse than the author meant it, but such an attitude betrayed both a lack of love for the sick man and a general devaluation of human worth, as if forgetting everything destroys the value of a man’s life.

As far as I can see in Hero – perhaps it is different elsewhere in the series – the world is entirely pagan. There are many mentions of “the gods”, none of God. And they are not kindly, either, but rather capricious – as they usually are, in pagan tales. We do come across an abbey … dedicated to Mother Earth. It tasted bad to me.

Despite this, Hero has much to its credit, from its humor to its excellent characters to its crazy, patchwork, fascinating world of dragons and witches and Elves and pirates. This is a wild, spinning fairy tale, as bold as the old fairy tales that thought nothing of telling you how the oceans came to be salt.

Setting Sail on a Fairy Tale Adventure*

*Family Welcome


by Alethea Kontis

Hardcover, 304 Pages

Enchanted by Alethea KontisEnchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1)

Hardcover, 305 pages

It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.

When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past – and hers?

Alethea Kontis

Alethea KontisNew York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales.

Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, includingThe Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her debut YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012 and was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea now lives in Northern Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

Sept 22 – Oct 17

Fairy Tale Gift Bundle: Signed copies of both Enchantment and Hero by Alethea Kontis plus swag!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sail Away on the
Fairy Tale Adventure Tour*
*Family Welcome

Sept 22 – LAUNCH

Sept 23 – The Missing Piece at Alethea Kontis

– Review on Debz Bookshelf

– Celebration on Deal Sharing Aunt

Sept 24 – Interview with Miss Print

Sept 25 – Interview with Carina Books

– The Grandfather Pirate on Living a Goddess Life

– Meet the Inspiration on The Wonderings of One Person

Sept 26 – Review on Shannon’s Blog

– Meet the Inspiration continued on Bookmarks

Sept 27 – Meet the Sister on Leeana Me

Sept 30 – USA Today Happy Ever After Interview

– Review of Enchantment on Colorimetry


– Release Day at Waterworld Mermaids

– My Favorite Bit (with Cat Valente) at Mary Robinette Kowal

– Review at Library of a Book Witch

– Interview & Review at Tressa’s Wishful Endings

Oct 2 – Video Rant at Geek Girl in Love

– The Big Idea at John Scalzi’s Blog

– My Bookshelf on Mel’s Shelves

– Did You See? on Cu’s eBook Giveaways

Oct 3 – The Missing Piece on I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

– Review at Books for Kids

Oct 4 – Podcast with Bennet Pomeranz

– Review of Hero on Colorimetry

Oct 5 – Hero LAUNCH PARTY at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA

Oct 7 – Character interview with Saturday Woodcutter at I Smell Sheep

Oct 8 – A Twist in the Tail at A Backwards Story

– Review at JL Mbewe

Oct 9 – Enchanted Inkspot

– Deleted Scene at Fragments of Life


Character Profiles: The Hapless Hero

Maybe I can’t read or write, but that doesn’t make me an illiterate!

Georgi, The Inspector General, 1949

Georgi was not such a bad fellow. True, he was the stooge of a lying, thieving charlatan. True, he played a primary role in selling healing elixir that was actually furniture polish. But he wasn’t really such a bad fellow.

He showed that one day when a woman tried to buy the furniture polish for her sick husband. “Go away,” he told her. When this failed, he confessed, “This medicine is a fake. I’m a fake. Yakov’s a fake. We’re cheating all the people.”

He didn’t notice until too late that some of the people were close enough to hear. After escaping the angry mob, Yakov sent him away. That’s when Georgi showed why, despite being not such a bad fellow, he was still the stooge of a charlatan. He wandered penniless and hungry for two days before, finally, he was thrown in jail as a vagrant.

Then – you know how crazy life is, especially if you’re in a movie – the town officials mistook him for the inspector general, hunting out corruption in disguise. Having cause to fear, they banqueted Georgi and obeyed him and generally acted as if he were the emperor himself. Georgi took it in bewilderment until, figuring out their mistake, he decided to run.

He was a Hapless Hero. Hapless Heroes are a common device in fiction. They don’t walk into their adventures; they stumble into them. Sometimes they’re pushed. They become heroes by luck, by accident, by anybody’s design but their own.

Hapless Heroes are usually played for comedy. Sometimes they’re endearing and sometimes they’re pathetic; occasionally, like Georgi, they’re both. Yet what makes Hapless Heroes unique is not their lack of competence nor their potential for humor. What makes them unique is that they do not want to be in the story. Their driving desire is to leave. That can be changed, of course, but – authors, take warning! – it must not be forgotten.

Sometimes the Hapless Hero changes through his adventure so that, on the other end of the character arc, he’s strong and confident. Other Hapless Heroes remain hapless to the end. Either way, every Hapless Hero must have his moment – a moment when he acts strongly, ably, and of his own volition.

Because all heroes, even Hapless Heroes, need to be heroic at some point.