My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
King Henry Price is fourteen, he loves everything he’s not supposed to and hates everything he’s supposed to. One day after his usual hour of detention he comes home to find an enigmatic woman named Ceinwyn Dale sitting in his kitchen, telling his parents lies about a special reform school. What she tells King Henry is different, she tells him he’s a mancer, a Geomancer to be exact, that he’s special, one in million maybe. She sure ain’t a fairy giant and King Henry sure as hell ain’t Harry Potter, but why not? Got to be better than the life he’s already got.
King Henry Price is twenty-two, a recent graduate of the Asylum as an Artificer. With the special ability to create lasting items of the Mancy, he’s spurned the Artificer’s Guild and struck out on his own to found an Artificer workshop looking to do things his way. One night, a vampire baroness claiming she’s named Anne Boleyn walks into his shop, telling King Henry he’s going to help her, and she’s not taking ‘no’ for an answer. King Henry is pretty sure the whole name thing is just a joke, but only pretty sure…
Boy, did I ever like The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady. A few months back, I went on a Bookbub binge, and this was one of the cheap or free purchases I had sitting around on my Kobo. Sometimes they turn out all right–especially since Bookbub is known for its quality–and sometimes they don’t. This one, well, they did a good job. (I’ve decided that in 2014 I want to make my way through all my Bookbub books, so you’ll see more reviews that reference Bookbub.)
Poor fourteen-year-old King Henry and his foul mouth. He’s such a little shithead that I couldn’t help loving him. The kid doesn’t have much chance not getting picked on in a world in our times when his mother thought it would be cool to actually name him King Henry. Then again, he doesn’t do himself any favors. The story is told from the perspective of an older King Henry, who is wise (ha!) in the ways of the world and is reflecting on getting dragged off to a magic school whether he wanted to or not. The way the book is written has some more intricacies, but I will leave it to you to find out. Suffice it to say that it’s an entertaining and interesting way of relating a story.
The TVTropes.org term for an element that threatens the reader’s suspension of disbelief is “lampshade hanging,” which Mr. Raley does marvelously. Sparkly vampires and Harry Potter are handled in such an entertaining way that I felt like, yeah, vampires really are blood creatures that wear our bodies as a disguise and Hogwarts has nothing on the real magic school where artificers study their natural craft.
I also wanted to call out the world-building. This is one of those worlds I can’t help but believe exists in another universe (or does it exist in ours and I’m just not aware?). I see in my head Mr. Raley’s writing desk, the walls covered in sticky notes that explain the magic and keep track of all the little idiosyncrasies of the artificers–yet none of it is heavy-handed. It’s casual, without being confusing. Informative, without being an info-dump. It is very well done.
A few grammatical errors spoiled the fun (note the comma splice in the first sentence of the description, sad face), but I was so enamored of King Henry’s exploits that I just didn’t care. And I don’t think I need to comment on the cover. I get the vision now that I’ve read the book, but it is an eyesore that almost stopped me from trying the book out.
If you have a special place in your heart for a foul-mouthed but likeable kid telling it like it is while he’s trying to find his way in this confusing world of magic, you’ll love The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady. I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the series and see what new mischief King Henry has gotten himself into.