Title: The Castaway Prince
Author: Isabelle Adler
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 59 Pages
At a Glance: As a short story of only fifty-nine pages, the author had limited space to develop characters and plot line. She did so with skill and finesse.
Reviewed By: Taz
Blurb: Ostracized by his family for his sexual identity, Prince Stephan is forced to flee his homeland before his older brother ascends the throne.
Stephan has been drawn to feminine things for as long as he can remember, so when the dire need for secrecy arises, he seizes the chance to don the perfect disguise. With the help of his loyal servant, Stephan picks his way through hostile territory, hiding his identity by posing as a woman. His only hope for asylum lies with the man who had been his friend and lover three years ago. But when that man also happens to be the crown prince of a rival country, things are a bit more complicated.
With war looming on the horizon, the danger of discovery grows by the moment. With all odds stacked against him, will Stephan find a safe place where he can be his true self, or is he doomed to remain a castaway?
Review: The Castaway Prince was a fun read with the feel of an older era with kingdoms and royal politics. We meet Stephan as he is fleeing from his home in search of safe harbor. Unprotected since the death of his father, against the hatred of his uncle and brother, Stephan believes his only chance at survival is to return to the one person he’d loved—his trusted companion, Warren. As the story unfolds, Stephan learns things about himself and, ultimately, pieces together bits and pieces of his life until he realizes who and what he truly wants.
As a short story of only fifty-nine pages, the author had limited space to develop characters and plot line. She did so with skill and finesse. Stephan, the main protagonist, is well fleshed out. In fact, each character that plays a significant role has been given enough depth that I cared about what decisions they made and how they reacted to one another.
On the flip side of writing shorter stories, there are certain moments when I found myself having to suspend disbelief a bit too far. I think this story could have used maybe two or three more chapters following the aftermath of Stephen’s big “ah-ha” moment. Things came to a close too quickly, and I would have preferred to see the interactions of all parties involved, and perhaps an epilogue to give a snapshot of the future. This did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. In fact, that a wanted more is a testimony to the author and the story.
I’d rank the story on the milder side in terms of heat, the physical aspect of the love taking a back seat to the emotional. This did not present a problem to me as the story itself held my interest. However, if you are looking for piping hot, graphic scenes of hot passionate man-on-man sex, you won’t find it in this book.
One element which I particularly enjoyed was getting inside the head of a man who feels fluidity between genders. He’s proud and happy to be a man, yet he also feels right and whole when dressing as a woman (his disguise as he’s fleeing to safety). The “disguise”, however, turned out to be far from a costume. Instead, it helped Stephen to express who he truly is, and to better understand the importance of cherishing his own uniqueness. I have not read many stories about non-binary ideology and particularly enjoyed this aspect of the story, finding myself zoning out as I tried to see the man inside the woman and the woman inside the man at the same time. They were truly one and the same, and I found I could not see “masculine” or “feminine”. I simply saw Stephan. That was eye-opening and greatly appreciated.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also share that Ms. Adler has a terrific sense of humor. There were several one-liners or moments where Stephan made a blunt assessment of his circumstances, causing me to laugh out loud. It was fun to have intelligent levity dusted throughout the tale.
You can buy The Castaway Prince here: