|Kingdom of little wounds
Author: Cokal, Susann
A young seamstress and a royal nursemaid find themselves at the center of an epic power struggle.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 6.80
Points: 21.0 Quiz: 163709
|Reading Counts Information:
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 6.60
Points: 27.0 Quiz: 61255
Michael L. Printz Honor, 2014
Common Core Standards
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
School Library Journal (+) (00/12/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/01/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2013 Skyggehavn, a fictional sixteenth-century kingdom, is a desperate place plagued by madness, disease, and mercury poisoning. Political intrigue, murder, and manipulation abound as Cokal wends the troubling tale of Ava, an aspiring royal seamstress, and Midi, a mute foreign nursemaid, who together orchestrate a daring gambit to ensure both the continued power of the reigning queen and the downfall of the cruel man who sadistically took advantage of them both. The author seamlessly interweaves crooked fairy tales throughout her dark story, which only serves to underscore the grim realities of the women who suffer terrible violence at the hands of brutal men. The graphic depictions of sex and rape make this a difficult read—and reserve it for the most mature readers—though Cokal gives a powerful and poignant voice to both Ava and Midi, whose indignation simmers until they enact a gruesome form of revenge. Despite the challenging content, the book’s lyrical writing, enthralling characters, and compelling plot will give older readers lots to ponder. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2013 Gr 10 Up—After a plague fell upon the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn in 1561, Ava and her father were the sole survivors of their family. Eleven years later, Ava, who has been taught to sew, is sent to the royal palace as a seamstress to the queen. Work there is coveted, but it is also beset with danger as there are no limits to the cruelty of the powerful. One prick from a needle into the flesh of agitated Queen Isabel sends Ava to the dungeon until she is retrieved by the villainous Count Nicolas. The count sexually abuses her and then sends her to work in the nursery as his spy, where she meets Midi Sorte. After being kidnapped, chained, sexually brutalized, and brought north by ship, Midi, a "Negresse," was presented as a gift to the court, naked, coated in sugar, and with a sugared plum in her mouth. Desperate to avoid continued mistreatment, the girls claw for survival in a court full of intrigue, disease, and sorrow. Ava and Midi evoke readers' sympathy as believable protagonists in a cast of mad characters. Cokal eloquently presents a grisly and visceral world that she aptly refers to as a "syphilitic fairy tale." There is no glossing over all manner of sexual abuse, miscarriages, death, and so on. After a gripping stroll through 550 pages, readers are left with a satisfying ending of justice and hope for Ava and Midi. This novel is distinctive in thought and elocution, but it is also dense and full of adult content. It could have a limited audience among teens.—Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UT - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2014 Court life in sixteenth-century Scandinavia is brought to exquisite and horrifying life in this tale of three fictional women: Isabel, the unstable, syphilitic queen; Ava Bingen, the demoted seamstress struggling to improve her station; and Midi Sorte, the bitter black slave whose tongue has been cut in half, rendering her mute. Midi and Ava tell their own stories, Midi having been taught to write by the court historian who has fallen in love with her, and Ava, a favorite raconteur in the palace nursery who threads her account with wisps of fairy tales, some of which are expanded in interstitial chapters throughout the book. The events at court are recounted in richly detailed prose that renders immediate the sights and smells of a time when science was deeply intertwined with superstition and politics was a blood sport. Queen Isabel has passed syphilis onto her young children, but their symptoms are exacerbated by the cures that she and her doctors have devised; Midi and Ava are vulnerable to Nicolas, a man with ambitions that he ruthlessly pursues until he has nearly achieved his ends. The women endure threats, brutality, rape, and shocking invasions of privacy as a matter of course and yet emerge canny and wise, reshaping history as the story of their own survival and self-interest in a world where they are seen as mere functionaries-if seen at all. The novel demands and rewards full immersion in its account of the everyday life, beliefs, and medical practices of the royals, and readers will definitely come away with a (dis)taste for the cultural history of the Renaissance. The author’s note is as playful as it is informative regarding what is true and what is fabricated as Cokal skillfully and unapologetically blurs the lines between fairy tale and history. KC - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.