The False Prince Was Really an Anastasia Retelling and I’m Not Mad About It

The False Prince
★★★★ — 75%

BECAUSE IT WAS. Just with a guy instead with a girl. And with an overload of snark. STEP IT UP, SAGE, YOU’RE A ROLE MODEL. HAahahAHAhahh or not, because the snark was hilarious and I really don’t care about anything else. Shallow, I am.

Oh, and also??? May not be a good idea to check this one out at the library. The librarians look at you weird when you’re taller than all the bookshelves in the juvenile department. Juvenile!!! I’ve lost my coolness badge. (And I’m also only 5’2″ so caN YOU IMAGINE how short those bookshelves are. Really, they’re just rubbing it in.) Ebooks and bookstore copies (not stolen–I’M TALKING TO YOU, SAGE) are a much better call. And if you’d like to tell past me that that would be loooovely.


In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

my thoughts

I don’t have many thoughts but I’m going to deceive YOU ALL and pretend like I do. It’s the evil thing to do, but maybe if I acknowledge that it will be ok???? Say yes.

Moving on.

This is how The False Prince made me feel. ^^ Only I’m not nearly as cool or as graceful as Julie Andrews OR Mary Poppins so sorry for the letdown. BUT GIGGLES. LOTS OF GIGGLES!!! (And Julie Andrews is amazing but I’ve been staring at this gif while writing for a while now, and don’t follow in my footsteps?? Ever?? Because even this gets weird. Just saying.)

The cast of characters was literally just a bunch of orphaned, sarcastic 14-year-olds thrown together in a castle (Anastasia retelling, I warned you) and I laughed at them so many times it was dangerous to read in public. NOISES! (Pro tip: repressing laughter results in even weirder noises, so if you’re feeling those joyful sounds, let it go my friend. LET IT FLY.)

Nielsen’s writing wasn’t extremely impressive in The Traitor’s Game—which I reviewed here, if you want to catch itbut strangely enough, it was so much better in this one. That’s like, reverse improvement or something??? (HA that bodes well.) I wasn’t as shocked with the middle-grade-ness that is soaking and sunning and tanning everywhere here because of my Embarrassing Incident™, and I think that helped me have more related/closer/more educated expectations that were actually met this time. My jerk meter level even dropped ten points because of it which makes me happy. Kaz isn’t as happy, but we’re both clapping for the writing…he just has an attitude about it. (BOO!) Oh, and the snappy dialogue was lovely.

Sarcastic hearts will expand and be warmed and become uncomfortable because the emotional phenomenon is a new experience for us BUT WE’RE HUMAN WE PROMISE. We will never be as cute as baby Rapunzel but we can stare at her, right???

There was only one (jk actually more than one but I especially hate this one so chill please) character that wasn’t sassy, and it was that character that I wanted to bash on a wall. DUDE NEEDS TO BUTTER HIS PLAIN-AS-TOAST PERSONALITY. And loosen up if he has the time.

The one thought I have that doesn’t relate to sass (and it’s usually this way in irl too, because INTP YES) I have is about the plot, which was unfortunately underwhelming. The Major Plot Twist was A Predictable-ish Plot Twist, so I didn’t lose my lunch or anything in shock. Sometimes I had to wait and waitandwaitandwaitandwait for something to happen, which stirred an emotion almost comparable to being prickled by a cactus, but I still turned those pages like the furious madwoman I am. For a kid’s book, the lack of complexity shouldn’t be that surprising, but The False Prince was really hyped up, so I had a totally different idea about where the plot as going, and honestly, which characters were involved to begin with. A dark-haired 18-year-old was not what I got and my imagination fought it all the way because it is rebellious and I am too. So like, 14-year-old. Blond hair. Remember.

While I can’t exactly put a finger on what my expectations were for The False Prince initially, and while what I got was definitely nothing like what I had thought I would get, I still had a great page-turning time reading it and screaming at my friends who’ve read it too, because it was SO MUCH FUN. The character development at the end was a little iffy, but I’m sure the next two books will explore that more and /hopefully/ fix everything. (Also: the fact that there are two more books is causing me panic???? I don’t think adding on to this baby is going to be a good thing, but I’m working on judging, so pray for meEEE.)

dirty talk

Language: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Hip hip hooray for verbal cleanliness!

Violence: Not much, but Sage is abused a bit by his master (??) and there are some sword fights. 14-year-old sword fights. There’s a difference and I can explain it, mate.

Sensuality: A peck on a cheek. We all like bird adjectives.

Substances: If there was wine I don’t remember. Trust my memory if you dare.