Published by Candlewick Press on October 8th 2013
Genres: Historical Fantasy
On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches. 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. 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.
*sigh* I want to like this book. Really, if I’m truly honest I don’t actually dislike the book I just don’t want to finish reading it. I found myself a bit surprised to see it labeled as YA if only because it’s a bit more graphic than I expected a YA to be.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not squeamish. I revel in the blatant sex and violence of Game of Thrones. Those books and the TV show sit among my favorites of all time. And yet this is the book that makes me uncomfortable.
Let’s just say it, Ava’s story is unpleasant. It just is. And actually I’m ok with that. It’s graphic and a bit gross at times and I think that would turn a lot of people off immediately. What bothers me is how mean-spirited it all seems. It came off as torturing the character just for the sake of doing it. Nothing good happens to this girl, it’s just bad thing after bad thing and I’m in no mood to read that right now. If something bad happens to a character again and again I like to see a real reason for it, not just doing it for no reason.
Also can we talk about the ridiculousness on sewing jewels into one’s genitals. Um why? What would possess you to do this? Are you insane? Clearly the answer is yes. That character is creepy enough but can we not please?
I think if I were in the right mood for this book I could have enjoyed it. After all it has a good plot, though the pacing is a bit slower than what is typical for a YA book. I has solid characters and solid world building and the beginning has a pretty fantastic hook. I just didn’t go in expecting what I got. If I read this again (and Im pretty sure I will because I want to see what happens) I will be much more prepared.
This is not a book for the squeamish, anyone grossed out by disease, triggered by assault or rape, or who doesn’t like character death. It’s definitely heavy and not recommended for younger YA readers. It’s a very mature book and while I don’t dispute its right to be YA I was a little shocked at first. Still, it’s a very triggery book so I’m going to recommend caution.
I guess this is the curse of the mood reader. Sometimes a DNF is not just a “will never read again. didn’t like” it’s just a “not right now”. My mood was heavy fantasy not dark, slightly unpleasant and rapey. That’s just how it goes. We’ll give this another go when I’m in the book for something a bit more sinister.
What do you think of this one? Too much? Or were you fine with it? Share in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,