Genre: Humorous Adult Fiction
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 2011
Books succeed or fail on many levels, and sometimes the reasons are personal. Royal Flush is a well-written, humorous story of a king struggling to rule his kingdom while trying to find the love of his life, and it mostly succeeds if you judge it for these elements, which are quite well done. But for personal reasons, I just didn’t enjoy it that much, and the main reason is that I didn’t like the humor. Humor plays a big part in this book; in fact, I would venture to say that it’s the biggest part of the book. In my opinion, humor is a lot like religion: if you aren’t on the same page, it’s very easy to offend someone.
I’ve struggled with humor my entire adult life, meaning that I often don’t find things funny that are uproariously funny to others. I hate stand-up comedy (Unless it’s Carrie Fisher. She is amazingly funny to me, for some reason.) My husband and I have a long-standing agreement that we just don’t get each other when it comes to humor. Don’t get me wrong. I laugh at a lot of things, but I enjoy subtle humor, the kind that doesn’t smack you over the head and scream “Look at me! I’m sooo funny!” I also don’t care for bathroom humor, physical humor (like the Three Stooges thing: what is so funny about hitting someone over the head?) or anything that uses women as the butt of a joke (which my husband loves, and yes that sentence is a pun, which is another thing I really hate: puns!) Anyway, you get my point. Humor is actually pretty personal and can quickly turn me off a book if it’s any of the above.
So Royal Flush has a lot going for it if you enjoy silly and over-the-top humor. And by the way, Scott Bartlett can really write. His prose (while silly) flows extremely well, and he knows his way around a sentence. The author is prone to hyperbole, which although annoying, does seem to fit in with the flavor of the story. Here’s a typical example:
The King radiated an utter lack of interest.
The story is pretty straightforward. A rather unpleasant King looks for love in all the wrong places while executing nearly everyone who crosses his path. He eventually gets his comeuppance, and then makes a comeback at the end. There’s nothing really wrong with the story, but I had the overall impression that Bartlett was trying too hard. For example, he breaks the story up into four sections, each labeled “King of Hearts,” “King of Diamonds,”…you get the picture. In each section he cleverly (one might say too cleverly) ties in the story with each suit: a heart, a diamond, a spade and a club. The card theme seems like a good idea, but the chapter titles don’t add up to a royal flush at all. I was also confused by the “punny” cover of a flushing toilet. Although the King’s private bathroom is the setting for several scenes, and the author goes to great lengths to joke about the King’s “throne,” it was the bidet that had more of a starring role than the toilet, so what could have been a clever joke with the cover and title tying into the story just didn’t work for me.
The story is populated with an amazing number of characters, some of them more amusing than others. Most of the characters despise the King, and all of them seem to be doing everything possible to either toss him out of the castle or kill him. I wanted to feel sympathy for this highly despised King, but it was hard to muster that emotion when I just didn’t like him. Despite the issues I had with the humor, however, there were a couple of things that did make me laugh. One of them is an ongoing joke about how the King has to ride a goat, rather than a horse. This goat appears on and off throughout the book and I have to admit I found his relationship with the King amusing. I was also strangely impressed with some of the more quirky characters, especially Elizabeth, a member of a touring troupe of linguists (!) whose specialty is communicating with honey bees.
There is no lack of creativity in Royal Flush, that’s for sure. Whether or not it all works together is another story. For those whose funny bone is tickled by puns and the like, a visit to this particular Kingdom might be right up your alley.
Many thanks to the author for supplying a review copy.
Now for the giveaway! Scott is offering up one digital copy of Royal Flush. Contest is INTERNATIONAL. Please fill out the form below to enter: