Book Thoughts: The Henchmen of Zenda


So I said I picked up The Prisoner of Zenda for reasons to become apparent.

Now they’ll become apparent.

I found author KJ Charles last year, quite by chance in February. One of her Society of Gentlemen books were on sale and it was recommended to me in a book group I follow on Facebook. I have since read her entire backlog minus one (I think) and I love how she builds her universes and stories with interlocking characters.

The Henchmen of Zenda is a book she signed up to write where the author picks a classic and “queers” it, meaning they genderswap or retell the story from a different viewpoint adding a “queer” element to the story.
It was supposed to be released through Riptide in June but after the debacle in March she managed to buy back the rights from the publisher and decided to self-publish it and release it a month earlier.

I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of this one in exchange for a review.

The Henchmen of Zenda’s companion classic is The Prisoner of Zenda, written by Anthony Hope in 1894. KJ had said that it wasn’t necessary to read the classic to enjoy the queered version but I wanted to anyway, which is why I muddled through it even though I had trouble with the language.

With KJ’s book I had no such trouble. Even though she wrote it in much the same style as Mr. Hope it was so much easier to read.

This story is told from the POV of one of Duke Michael’s Henchmen, Jasper Detchard and the book is his response to Rudolf Rassendyll’s accounts of the events in Zenda.

Detchard is a mercenary originally from England, working for Duke Michael who is hoping to out-manouver his half-brother Rudolf V from the throne in Ruritania. The bones of the story is the same as The Prisoner of Zenda but Mr Detchard fills us in on where Rassendyll may have altered the truth slightly and maybe he wasn’t as truthful as we were led to believe.
And all the villains of the first book may not be as villainous as we thought – maybe they even worked for someone else and for completely different reasons?

Detchard is one of Duke Michael’s Five. His Henchmen who does his every bidding (?) and when the Duke adds a sixth member to their team, Ruritanian Rupert of Hentzau, Jasper soon realises that no one is what they seem and he will need every weapon in his arsenal to get out of this situation alive, on top and maybe he will find a lifelong companion while he’s at it.

The book is out on May 15th. (Amazon)


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