cover image The Princess Beard

The Princess Beard

Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. Del Rey, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5247-9780-5

In the proudly lowbrow third volume of the satirical Tales of Pell (after No Country for Old Gnomes), Dawson and Hearne turn to the high seas as their unlikely heroes become even less likely pirates. Captained by the talking parrot Filthy Lucre, the crew of the Puffy Peach set out for adventure and treasure. Among them are Morgan, a princess who kept the beard she grew during an enchanted sleep; Vic, a centaur whose overbearing toxic masculinity is at odds with his ability to conjure tea and pastries; and Tempest, a dryad who wants to be a lawyer. As they sail the crimson tides of the Myn Seas (populated by tampooners) and brave the dangers of all-night eateries, they challenge gender roles in fantasy and skewer social trends, attacking targets as varied as Harry Potter and gym culture with a dizzying array of bad jokes and puns. (“I am an expert seaman of the Morningwood, and I’ve got a lot of spunk,” claims Alobartalus, a disgruntled elf in search of a new destiny.) The sheer quantity of sophomoric humor threatens to drown out an entertaining plot filled with callbacks to previous volumes and satisfying emotional journeys for the protagonists. This is a clever send-up of fantasy tropes and modern culture, but it often tries a little too hard. (Oct.)