Thursday, June 12, 2014

Audio Book Review: The Kingdom of Little Wounds, by Susann Cokal

I'm not sure where to begin with my thoughts on The Kingdom of Little Wounds.

We're in some kingdom in the 16th century. The Kingdom of Little Wounds focuses on two people. Ava Bingen, who used to be a seamstress for the queen, but after pricking her with a needle, she gets demoted to nursemaid for the sick princesses and prince.

Midi Sorte is a black slave girl who cannot speak because her tongue is split. She is also a nurse for the children.

First of all, everyone in the kingdom is sick. Mostly with syphilis, it seems. All of the children, the queen, and the king. Secondly this book is gross. I've never read about puking and other bodily excrements in such great detail and so often. Not to mention the torturing and whippings.  And lots of descriptions of death. And some violent sex. I just go the feeling that Cokal was trying for the shock value.

The story here is interesting. There's a lot of court intrigue. The bad guy is trying to get Ava and Midi to spy for him, and when they don't come up with enough, he forces himself upon them. Everyone is subject to the King's wishes. If something bad happens, someone will be thrown into prison and beheaded for sure.

There are brutal rapes. Yes plural. I didn't find them too explicit, but this really will push the limits for some YA readers.

Basically, our two main characters are fighting for their survival any way they can. I don't want to give too many specifics about the story. But what they end up doing is creative, exciting, dangerous, and very entertaining.

So.  Did I like the book? Well, I guess yes. But, I really thought the violence was overdone, and the entire story moves very slowly. I thought maybe I should get a paper copy and read instead of listen, but by the time I could get the actual book, I was almost to the end. So I finished the audio.

The narrator, Susan Duerden, is good. The voices she used were distinctive and appropriate. It's just a long, slow book....

I liked the story -- the deceptions and the alliances. I know this has been described as a beautifully written book (it is a Printz Award Honor Book), but maybe that beauty is a bit too much for teens. I just can't think of very many teens I would recommend The Kingdom of Little Wounds to. The way it is written and the subject matter screamed "adult" to me -- even though the main characters are teens.

Published by Candlewick, 2013,  audio by Brilliance Audio
Copy obtained from the library
576 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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  1. Great review Annette. I've been looking at this one, now I may just give it a pass - or not! We'll see.

  2. I was thinking about reading this book, but may steer clear of the audio if it contains that much violence and rape. It still seems like an intriguing read, although when I read it I'll go in knowing about the more gross and violent aspects, so maybe it won't shock as much. Great review!


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