Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – Once Upon a Con Series Book Review/Once Upon the Dark Side
Apologies that this is much later than I’d planned. Lockdown has been weird for me and reading. Anyway. I’m back on schedule and plan to release the Bookish and the Beast Review on its release day of Aug 4th and I’ll post my Starfield Special on Aug 5th.
Princess and the Fangirl Synopsis
Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary Fangirl on an impossible mission: to save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off in the Starfield movie sequel. The problem is, Jessica Stone, the actress who plays Amara, desperately wants to leave the franchise behind.
When a case of mistaken identity at ExcelsiCon throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must team up and trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover the darker side of fandom – as well as unexpected romantic possibilities. Can these “princesses” find a way to rescue themselves from their own expectations and redefine what it means to live happily ever after?
About the Author
Ashley Poston was born and raised in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well.When she’s not inventing new recipes with peanut butter, having passionate dance-offs with her cat Pepper 🐈 , or geeking out all over the Internet and at comic cons, she writes books and is the author of the Once Upon a Con series and Heart of Iron Duology.
What I Thought
I was excited to be back in the once upon a con universe and although we shift to focusing on different characters this time our favourites from Geekerella also make an appearance.
Where Geekerella was a Cinderella retelling this is a Prince and the Pauper one. Basically we have your parent trap switcharoo here with our two main characters stepping into each other’s shoes.
With Darien in book one and now Jessica in book two author Ashley Poston helps us see the real person behind the celebrity and I think that’s hugely important. It makes the romances that much more believable, and possible. Having been a con attendee now I think you do get that variety of ‘celebrities’, those who are more approachable (Darien) and fan friendly and those that can appear more standoffish. We get to explore the latter type here and we really get to understand the why.
Whilst we had some LGBTQIA+ representation in secondary characters last time, this time one of our main characters falls in that bracket. I spotted the nod to Simon versus the Homosapians Agenda (Love Simon) with the character name this time. I love intertextuality. I also love the enemies to lovers trope, if you are a fan of that too this book will make you happy.
We also get some proper intrigue and mystery in this story. Jessica’s script has gone missing, someone is leaking it online. Who is it, and can they stop them?
There are lots of little side stories and relationships that make this book such a fun read and it captures fully the joy of fandom and convention going – which is about the friends you make rather than the celebrities you spot.
Once Upon the Dark Side
And no this isn’t referring to Star Wars. At least not exclusively.
Poor Jessica definitely feels the dark side of fandom coming down on her in this book and you don’t have to look too hard online to see it there either. I’m going to touch on two aspects.
I focused on cosplay alongside my review of Geekerella and I want to follow that up by reminding everyone that Cosplay is not Consent. Ask to take someone’s photograph – they may want to pose to show their costume in the best light or they might prefer not to be photographed at all.
And do not touch.
Personal space needs to be respected. Maybe with social distancing this might become better accepted. Yes some of the costumes are skimpy, and some of them are also handmade and delicate. Do not touch unless invited. And any con worth their salt should have a code of conduct on behaviour and a place where you can report inappropriate people.
Same goes when you have photo ops with celebrities – ask before touching. They are people to who have a right to say no to your request and who may be dealing with their own social anxieties/ internal traumas. Some will be happy to sign but prefer not to have photos taken. And please don’t jump in front of their car to get them to stop (saw this at a theatre stage door once).
As fans of something some of us can have a tendency to think that it belongs to us. When in reality everything is an act of co-production. At times our expectations are unrealistic and in real life, as in the novel, responses can turn sour. If a character doesn’t look the way you expected them too. If a scene was cut. These are the things we love to dissect but sometimes it goes further and darker than this.
The Star Wars fandom backlash against some of its female stars in particular has been disgusting. If a character in an adaptation doesn’t meet up to your expectations or an author doesn’t follow through with your OTP (one true pairing) or they kill off your favourite character, by all means mention it in your review/analysis but a) don’t tag the person b) create your own “headcanon”. Do not demand that they change it. c) Do not issue death threats. I can’t believe I need to say it but I’ve seen it happen.
Next time I’ll be exploring retellings and fan fiction so back to a more fun topic.
Thanks to Quirk & Jamie-Lee and Stephen for hooking me up with an ARC of book three and giving me the opportunity to re-read this funtastic series. All opinions are my own.