Monday, February 18, 2013

REVIEW: Royal Flush / Scott Bartlett

TITLE: Royal Flush
AUTHOR: Scott Bartlett
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon US (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback), Barnes and Noble (paperback), Barnes and Noble (Nook e-book), Indigo (paperback), iTunes(e-book), Kobo (e-book), Sony (e-book) 

Recommended for fans of quirky comedies such as the humor of Monty Python.


The world of Royal Flush is reminiscent of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail in that the story takes place in a wacky medieval-style land that makes no sense in the real world. The nonsensical nature of Royal Flush’s universe is the source of much of its comedy.

Royal Flush is a quick read. Something about its wackiness makes it addictive and hard to put down.

Third person omniscient. The narrator often feels like a character in the story, offering commentary and insights outside of the characters’ perspectives.

Scott Bartlett’s wacky medieval-style comedy takes place in a far-off land known only as the Kingdom. The King took over the throne because no one else wanted the job, not even the former king’s sons. A useless and blustering tyrant, he exists mainly for the entertainment of the populace, who enjoy reading about him in the Kingdom’s tabloid. Royal Flush follows the King’s woeful attempts at finding love, consolidating power, and holding onto his throne.

In Royal Flush, Bartlett describes a nonsensical world of exaggerated personalities and mad happenings. His satirical style keeps the King’s abuses at arm’s length, making the outwardly horrific events in the book into punch lines. The narrator often seems to be a member of the crazy cast, with his unique voice and somewhat rambling nature. Bartlett writes with an energetic and snappy style that keeps the story moving forward pretty quickly.

The book intentionally throws all real world pretenses out the window, and the result is a shameless and fantastically entertaining farce. The King rides a goat because the horses are all too colicky. The editor of the national tabloid forces the King to cross-dress in exchange for ad space, which the King uses to declare his love for a woman he met at a bar. The population becomes so enamored by a bandit that they eagerly give him their goods and consider it an honor to be robbed.

The King is an arrogant, incompetent, and ridiculous man whose nuttiness makes him a delight to watch. He blusters about declaring his kingliness, yet does little in the way of ruling. He abuses power left and right, yet regularly gets his comeuppance in the form of humiliation. Despite everything, there’s something endearing about this wacky character, and I even found myself rooting for him.

The King is accompanied through his adventures by a number of odd—and perhaps somewhat deranged—characters. There’s Sir Forsyth, a doctor of sorts whom the King seeks to cure his broken heart. Sir Forsyth, it turns out, is capable of far more than the King anticipated. And there’s Frederick, the King’s fiddler and sole companion when an enemy army lays siege to the castle. The King and Frederick delight in hating each other due to their mutual attraction for a woman. And then there’s the Wisest Man Alive, who has his own designs on the kingdom and, in a somewhat meta moment, turns out to be writing a biography of the King.

The plot of Royal Flush is unexpectedly clever. When I first started reading, I thought the book would be a simple, humorous depiction of a wacky kingdom, but as the novel progressed, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns. Seemingly random events weave together to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. In addition, like all good satirists, Bartlett uses his exaggerated narrative to skewer certain stereotypes.

Unconventional, quirky, and over-the-top, Royal Flush is the kind of comedy that asks a reader to check reality at the door. It may not be for everyone, but personally, I found it rather addictive and ended up reading the whole thing in one afternoon

This book is well edited. If there were any errors, I didn’t catch them. 

Royal Flush is divided into four long chapters with section breaks in between.

References are made to violence, but the acts themselves either occur “off-screen” or are described minimally.

[From the author's Amazon page]

Scott Bartlett has been writing fiction since he was fifteen. Since then, he's written three novels and several short stories. His second novel, Royal Flush, won the H. R (Bill) Percy Prize, and his third novel, Taking Stock, received the Lawrence Jackson Writers' Award and the Percy Janes First Novel Award.

Scott also maintains a blog about environmental issues. In April, he won the Rio+20 Big Blog Off, and as a result traveled to Rio de Janeiro to blog at World Environment Day for the United Nations Environment Programme and

Visit his website or Like Royal Flush on Facebook


  1. Fantastic review. I never would have picked up this book on my own. But a witty satire that challenges everything. Sounds like a must-read! Thanks for the review, Mary!

    1. I'd love to hear what you think, once you read it!