Book Review: The Henchmen of Zenda by KJ Charles [Audiobook]

Jasper Detchard is recruited to be part of the inner circle of Michael, brother to the soon-to-be king of Ruritania, but his loyalty lies with Michael's mistress, a friend who once saved his life. Things go awry for Michael and his men when their attempt to steal the throne fails and an imposter shows up to the king's coronation, and Jasper will have to balance various different plots and plans as he plays his part, as well as his attraction to the latest recruit, Rupert of Hentzau.

Book Review: The Henchmen of Zenda by KJ Charles
Title: The Henchmen of Zenda
Pages: 198
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


This is a retelling of The Prisoner of Zenda that tells the story from the perspective of one of the villains, with some creative liberties and twists. I don’t think you need to read the original to enjoy this, but it might make the story easier to understand since you’ll have the full picture, and I always find it makes retellings more interesting to know the original, especially when they’re from a different character’s POV.

So I listened to the original before listening to this one, and maybe this is literary blasphemy, but I liked this retelling more!

I wondered at first why the author chose Detchard as the protagonist when Rupert was so much more interesting, but she managed to make Detchard interesting too, and he was a good choice of narrator. He had a mature, controlled demeanor that was the perfect contrast to Rupert’s youth and brashness, and he held coldness toward most but warmth for those he considered friends. And not getting Rupert’s POV only made him all the more dashing and enigmatic. It’s also fun getting to root for the bad guys, especially when the author gives them some good qualities and reasons to be on their side without overdoing it and making them too good. In this case, Detchard wasn’t exactly a good person, but he was in this particular situation for a good reason I could support, and I just found myself liking the characters anyway.

The romance between Detchard and Rupert, which turned out to be a kind of unofficial but loyal open relationship, was sexy and fun and suited them and their adventurous lifestyles.

The plot was in line with the original (someone who looks like the king impersonates him to help when the king is poisoned before coronation and winds up in the middle of dangerous politics as the king’s brother, Michael, tries to take the throne), but more fleshed out on Michael’s side of things and with backstory, motivations, and a satisfactory ending for Detchard and Rupert. The author also put some of her own unique twists on things.

Side note: I love how perfect the book cover is for the story and characters, and I also just love the cover in general! Look at that playful smirk on Rupert’s face. (According to the author’s site, the art is by Simoné, design is by LC Chase.)

The audiobook narration by Antony Ferguson was great. It sounded natural, voices suited the characters, and although all the voices weren’t super different, I didn’t have a problem telling characters apart.

Overall, the characters were interesting, the romance was fitting, the story and its slight twists on the original were fun, and I really enjoyed this!


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Have you read The Henchmen of Zenda by KJ Charles?
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16 thoughts on “Book Review: The Henchmen of Zenda by KJ Charles [Audiobook]

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    1. Kristen Burns

      Nope, I hadn’t heard of it either until I came across this book! Which is a shame because I think I would have liked it a lot more than the other classics I was made to read in school. I guess it doesn’t actually surprise me either that I liked this retelling more since I usually feel very 3 star-ish about classics lol.

  1. Greg

    I’ve never read the PRisoner of Zenda but it always sounded kinda exotic and fun

    Also, this “It’s also fun getting to root for the bad guys, especially when the author gives them some good qualities ”

    I agree!

    Glad this was good! 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      You should try Prisoner of Zenda, I feel like you might like it! It’s kind of adventurous and fun. But yeah, it’s also fun getting to root for the bad guys, glad you agree 😛

  2. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I’ve never read the original yet I don’t even care, this sounds good. I’ve had KJ Charles on my radar to read for a while, I’ve heard good things about so many of her books and this one sounds great. I am with you on the cover art, love how he’s smirking during a sword fight, like it’s all a laugh and he’s enjoying it.

  3. Lola

    I’ve added this one to my audio to listen to list. I never heard of the original The Prisoner of Zenda story though, so i hope that won’t be a problem. The characters and romance sound well done. And I am glad to hear the narrator did a good job.

  4. Olivia Roach

    Sometimes it’s just the truth — the retelling can be better than the original and it is some dedication that you went to the original first before getting to this one. I am biased towards characters who are called Jasper so this book already has one selling point for me. I also really like the sound of it being from the villains point of view as well because it makes it unique and also adds some complexity to character too!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yep, retellings just are better sometimes!I am almost always dedicated like that, but on the bright side, it gets me to gsome classics that I otherwise might not have!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I believe it’s a woman, but she does write some great books! I’ve enjoyd all of them that I’ve read so far. But I feel you about not needing more books on your tbr lol.

  5. ShootingStarsMag

    I don’t think I even know the original story!! I imagine retellings of certain stories or books are better than the original – easier to read, or just more interesting. As for your question about romances, I think it can be fun to have a different sort of relationship. Like almost anything, switching up the usual in books is kind of exciting!


    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, retellings are often more interesting now that I think about it, maybe because they’re more modern in style and can focus on different parts of the story. I’m glad you like it too when things like romance is switched up a bit!