book reviews, Candlewick, Candlewick Books, did not finish, fairy tales, gruesome books, historical fiction, Kingdom of Little Wounds, review copy, Scandinavia, Susann Cokal, The Kingdom of Little Wounds, YA fiction, young adult fiction
It is while I stitch together the Queen’s gown, on the night her eldest daughter is to die, that I first sense an uneasy power.
“On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches: brocade and satin and jewels, feasts of sugar fruit and sweet spiced wine. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s favors sets a devious plot in motion. Here in the palace at Skyggehavn, things are seldom as they seem — and when a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history, the fates of seamstress Ava Bingen and mute nursemaid Midi Sorte become irrevocably intertwined with that of mad Queen Isabel. As they navigate a tangled web of palace intrigue, power-lust, and deception, Ava and Midi must carve out their own survival any way they can.”
I’m still not quite sure what I think of this book; it’s weird, and not very young adult-like at all. The writing is well crafted, but kind of flat as a whole. It’s also super graphic and disgusting at times. I do know that the part I read didn’t live up to my expectations; the plot sounded fascinating, and it seemed like it would be an engrossing read. Well, it was certainly gross. I gave the book about 80 pages before giving up. Parts of the book were intriguing, but ultimately I didn’t have the patience for this long-winded novel. Perhaps if I’d stuck with it a bit longer, I would have been able to get into it.
It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what about this book was such a turn-off; although how graphic it was was part of it, there was more to my repulsion. There are a lot of simply disgusting descriptions in the book, and the provided summary creates a vastly different impression of the book’s tone. I’m happy that the author didn’t shirk from talking about some pretty awful things that do actually happen to people; there was just too much, and the story itself wasn’t that interesting to me. The marketing was slightly deceptive too.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the horrific things that happened in the book, but the style and the slowness of the pace which made me put it down. Maybe it picks up further along, but I wasn’t in the mood to read more pages of boring, if gruesome writing. It’s a shame too, because I thought I would really like the book. But I didn’t, and that’s that. I normally like dark fairy tales and fables, but not in this case. The Kingdom of Little Wounds just didn’t work for me. I may try again sometime, but I doubt it.
I received an ARC from Candlewick.