So This is Ever After
By F.T. Lukens
Narrated by Kevin R. Free
LGBTQ+ Romance Fantasy
F.T. Lukens So This is Ever After is Chaotic D&D party meets Arthurian Legend meets romcom. It is a perfect blend of everything that accumulates in a compelling LGBTQ+ romance where love and friendship beat out evil kings, curses and everything in between.
So This is Ever After follows Arek and his party packed with a mage, a bard, a knight, and a rogue. And of course, the mage, Matt, his best friend and his soulmate that he pines after for the entirety of the book. After Arek places the crown of the king he had just slain upon his head, he feels awash with magic. And it is only after Harlow, the head servant, tells Arek of an enchantment that binds whomever places the crown upon their head to the throne and the kingdom until they die. Even worse, Arek is forced to find a soulmate – a safeguard to ensure the ruler of the kingdom wouldn’t become an evil tyrant; a safeguard the last cruel king circumvented. Behind the scenes, Arek, now king, and Lord Matt the mage must “swoon” one of their friends in hopes of marrying so that Arek may not fade away forever before he comes of age.
The story is hilariously packed with modern comedy in a fantasy setting – a writing style that reminds me of Netflix’s old hit series The Guild. Paired along with the skillful narration of Kevin R. Free and you got an engaging story with unique voices for every character. It’s immersive, hilarious and fun.
But despite the cute romance, the subversive fantasy tropes and the modern take on the Fantasy genre in where there is inclusion, I’m not sure that without Free’s narration that So This is Ever After would have been as engaging.
After the first few chapters where Arek begins to try and “swoon” his friends, the comedy doesn’t pack as much of a punch, and the constant swooning becomes a bit competitive. Even more so, considering that we know that Arek is pining over Matt, it almost feels frustrating their miscommunication. It’s obvious the two have romantic feelings for one another, but practically the entire plot revolves around the two not speaking about their feelings with one another. That, and the fact that Matt knows according to the prophecy scroll that he ends up with Arek and the whole plot seems almost useless.
Still, I wouldn’t say it was a waste of a read. If it was worth anything, it was worth listening to Kevin R. Free’s versatile performance and hearing the comedy out loud. The subversion of fantasy tropes into a comedy was also refreshing to read – refreshing enough that it felt unique, but not entirely groundbreaking.
Reviewed by David Valentin
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, March 29, 2022