by Susann Cokal
A young seamstress and a royal nursemaid find themselves at the center of an epic power struggle in this stunning young-adult debut.
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.
Personal Note: A word of caution: This book is extremely mature and I would recommend a parent read it first before giving it to your child. The book was a very interesting but an uncomfortable read for me. To quote Publisher's Weekly: " Though the novel’s frank and upsetting depictions of rape, child-marriage, miscarriage, and syphilis mark this title for mature readers, its brutality, eloquence, and scope are a breathtaking combination. " This pretty much sums it up but I will also add that is was violent, graphic and there was very little love in this story.
2014 Michael L. Printz Honor