Author E Stuart Marlowe
This is the spoiler free review of Pauper King by E Stuart Marlowe. If you would like to read the spoiler full review complete with even more examples of how this kind of literature harms the feminist movement please visit here.
Thank you to E Stuart Marlowe for providing me with a copy of Pauper King in exchange for this honest review. And know that my criticism about the book is about anti-feminist literature and not against him as a person.
Pauper King is the story of Johannes, Snow White’s father and former King of un-named fairy tale land. Snow White has been brutally murdered, there will be 9 more, and Johannes puts together a rag tag team of misfits to solve the crime before more victims fall.
The story includes many references to popular story book characters such as Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Bluebeard, etc. There are also witches, ogres, magic, and any number of dangerous journeys.
Unfortunately, it does not develop those characters past their name recognition. Most of the name drops are simply in place to count a victim. We’re supposed to recognize the victim and care because we know the names, it takes out any effort of doing any actual characterization.
The pacing of the book is odd to say the least. The killer is revealed to the reader within the first third of the novel but the “heroes” don’t discover it until near the end. This leads to a frustrating reading experience in which Johannes gathers clues but incompetently attempts to put them together in a futile attempt to save anyone’s life.
The book reads like a Dungeon and Dragons campaign that includes too many side quests. The characters get distracted along the way to their goals but the “villain” conveniently pauses their carnage to wait for them to return. It’s baffling.
You may have noticed that I’ve put “heroes” and “villain” in quotes. The characters that the book identifies as the heroes are incompetent and are completely incapable of saving anyone but themselves.
The “villain” in the book is who I honestly identify as the sole respectable character in the book. Read the spoiler full review for much much more on this. I can’t get into why here without giving away the reveal.
Above all else, the book is sexist. My main complaint is that almost every female character in the book is a murder victim. Snow White was fridged right from the beginning.
[Fridging is when a, typically female, character is killed off for the sole purpose of driving the male heroes motivations.]
The main female character who isn’t murdered is demoted from warrior princess to housekeeper sex object. Once again for the sole purpose of keeping our male hero happy.
And the other female characters are… giant huge spoilers please read the spoiler full review!
In addition to many problematic female characters there are several issues with the themes and morals that are portrayed through the story. Harmful stereotypes are plentiful and by the end it seems that the lesson is that women need to “know their place.”
Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, SMASH THE PATRIARCHY.
When I closed the last page of this book I set it down and just shook my head for a minute. I literally thought to myself, “this book stands for everything I’m against.”
I’m very disappointed that I have to write a review like this about a book that was written so recently. It shows how far we still have to go to not only take down anti-feminist literature but to even recognize it. I see many positive reviews about this book, some from women, and am shocked that they either don’t see it or don’t care.
I’m begging all of you to think critically about what you read. Don’t get lost in the easy comfort of fairy tale names and cliches, think about how it portrays people and how harmful that can be to society.
Clearly, I do not recommend this book.
1/5 🍜 bowls of gruel
This is where I normally include an affiliate link for you to buy the book and I get a small commission. I encourage you to not buy anti-feminist literature.