The Lizard Prince 1 by Asuka Izumi: B-

lizardprinceFrom the back cover:
Canary is the princess of the kingdom of Linaria. Her father, the king, has promised her hand in marriage to Heath, the handsome prince of the kingdom of Gazania. Canary isn’t crazy about this, because Heath has a bad reputation. The Prince has his own reservations, and gets his brother Sienna to pose as him on their first date, convinced he’ll drive her away. But the plan backfires when chemistry ignites between the two. The only problem is, Sienna’s been under a spell, which turned him into a lizard. And once he’s done posing as his brother, he reverts back to that form! Will love really conquer all in this mixed-up triangle?

CMX does a great job finding all-ages shoujo fantasy titles that also appeal to older readers. I enjoyed both The Palette of 12 Secret Colors and Lapis Lazuli Crown, and while I think The Lizard Prince has some problems, it’s still a decent read.

When Princess Canary’s father announces that the time has come to discuss an arranged marriage, she is pragmatic enough to have been expecting it, though she is not so sanguine about her proposed mate. Prince Heath, heir to a neighboring kingdom, is rumored to be a drunken, womanizing lout and Canary wants nothing to do with him. Her father assures her that she need only meet him once and can then call things off, and she agrees. Meanwhile, Prince Heath has acquired some magical 24-hour body swap medicine and prevails upon his talking lizard pal/minion to switch places with him.

With the lizard inhabiting his body, the Prince Heath Canary meets is sweet and kind, and she falls in love with him. Awesomely, when Canary later meets the real Prince Heath she can tell instantly that he’s not the same person and, when she learns the truth behind the masquerade, unselfconsciously professes her love for the lizard. The moment she does so, the curse upon the lizard is lifted and he’s revealed to be Heath’s older brother, Sienna.

It’s patently clear that The Lizard Prince was meant to be a one-shot story. Events wrap up so neatly at the end of the first chapter that there’s not much else to be done. And yet, the tale continues with Canary and Sienna having a variety of episodic (and rather lame) adventures, like dealing with an imposter, helping some ghosts achieve closure, and caring for an infant. After fifteen years of living as a lizard, Sienna now possesses the ability to become one at will (though he has no control over when he becomes human again), and frequently faces peril while in this form. It’s sometimes amusing, but not often.

Though it may be similar in feel to Lapis Lazuli Crown, The Lizard Prince suffers in comparison because there’s no point to the story. Both Canary and Sienna are likable characters—a “strong woman and pathetic man” combo that the author professes to prefer—and much of the enjoyment derived from reading the volume is on account of them, but it’s disappointing that they’re not given more to actually do.

Izumi’s artistic style isn’t particularly distinctive, but it is nice to look at. Sienna doesn’t look much like any lizard I’ve ever seen—he kind of looks like a plushy comma with teeny legs—but I doubt realism was even attempted. The biggest problem is that it’s occasionally hard to determine in what order the panels should be read; I made the wrong choice a few times.

The Lizard Prince is pleasant but forgettable. If the series were any longer, I’m not sure I’d bother continuing, but since it’s only two volumes long, I will likely seek out the second for the sake of completion.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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