The Princess Beard, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is the third and final book in the Tales of Pell trilogy, though it works fine as a stand-alone. The Lady Harkovrita wakes from a magical slumber in a tower to find herself with a beard and a decision—go back to her life to be married off to some jerk, or leave and find an adventure. She chooses the latter, and a new name, Morgan. On her way to becoming a pirate, she’ll become part of the weirdest crew to ever sail the seas, and save a lot of otters from a dastardly conspiracy.
There’s a whole cast of characters in this book, but I’m just going to introduce the main ones. The pirate captain, a talking parrot named Filthy Lucre who also goes by the moniker the Clean Pirate Luc. Tempest, a dryad who wants to become a lawyer before she turns into a carnivorous tree (and my favorite character in this book). Vic, a centaur misogynistic swole boy who can conjure tea and pastry and who, by the end of the book, I actually didn’t hate anymore (personal growth and all that). And Alobartalus, an un-elfly elf who just wants to get away from the other elves and meet his hero, the Sn’archivist. All of these people, with the possible exception of Captain Luc, are trying to avoid their destinies and all of them must face said destinies head-on.
The plot, other than each character’s personal arc, revolves around the strange and strangely cheap meat EATUM, served by the chain restaurant Dinny’s. What, exactly, is it made from? Why are the managers willing to kill to keep that secret?
Along the way, the crew will come across sea monsters, sirens, a ship under attack by angry otters, trolls, police, pirate-hunters, cannibals, lawyers, ghosts…the list, the adventures, and the puns, go on.
As always in The Tales of Pell, there’s a ton of puns, bodily humor, and a host of references to movies, books, and fairytales and myths. There’s also a few references to previous books that will be more meaningful if you’ve read the first two in the series, but The Princess Beard fully stands alone, so don’t be afraid to dive right in.
I loved The Princess Beard, and am so sad to see the last of Pell. Due to some anxiety issues, it took me far longer than I wanted to to finish this book, but it was worth persisting. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.