Every now and again you get someone who is the ‘black sheep’ of the family. But in this story we have the opposite happening. Young Robbie is the heir to the Sinistevil’s dynasty and whilst he tries very hard to live up to his mother’s expectations, it is obvious that he will never fit (both literally and metaphorically), into his dead brother Brutus’s shoes. The family are the most evil rulers that you can imagine, with a love of killing, looting and pillaging. At the age of 12 years they are made to pledge their heart to a jewelled sceptre, which re-enforces their desire for evil. Nothing gets in their way and there is no such thing as family love or loyalty. The problem is that Robbie really does not fit into this world. He thinks he is evil, but in fact he is a real softy and even has a local peasant girl, Layla, as his friend. When Robbie discovers that he has an artificial heart, after his mother had the real one removed when he was a baby, he decides to go and retrieve the real one, so that he can take the oath to the sceptre. What follows is a funny and yet sad look at someone who is desperate for love and affection, but who cannot see the reality of the family that he is growing up in. Thankfully there are people who want to help Robbie be the good person he is meant to be, although they have their own challenges in life.
What an absolutely magical story this is. I can’t imagine that anyone will not love Robbie despite the fact that he needs a bit of ‘backbone’. However, with the strong-willed Layla and loyal servant Devon, he is able to overcome many dangers and eventually realizes that he does not want to be evil and much prefers being an ordinary person. I think it is possible to come to the conclusion that we are not just the character we inherit from our family. We definitely see that Robbie has an innate goodness that even his horrible mother cannot destroy. There are so many instances where we wonder about the meaning of family; the Sinistevils take the meaning of ‘dysfunctional’ and then raise it by several notches. Some of the other characters prove that money plays no part in the way that family love can work and are excellent role models for young Robbie to follow. If you want a story of a lovable character, with the added ‘attraction’ of a really vile villain (hiss, boo!) then this really is the book for you. It is full of laughter, adventure and even the possibility of redemption at the end of the book.
“CHLOË PERRIN is a North Walian writer who currently lives in West London studying Creative Writing at Brunel University.
They love to feed crows, prefers Halloween to Christmas and was frequently told off as a child for reading in class. Chloë has previously worked as a youth worker, drama tutor and professional storyteller, having always believed that the best way to teach anyone anything is through a story.
HIS ROYAL HOPELESS was longlisted for the 2019 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Prize and is their debut novel.” Chicken House website.