Princess Juniper of Torr makes a small request for her 13th birthday – a kingdom of her own. She longs for a place where she can be with kids her own age without having to follow the endless rules of her Comportment Master. A place where she can put all of her lessons into practice. Surprisingly, her father says yes.
Soon, Juniper and her “country men and women” are loaded up and ready to head to their new kingdom. Two things keep this from feeling as awesome as it should. One is Cyril, Juniper’s arrogant older cousin who is sent along with two of his friends; they have no intention of following Juniper as queen. The other is the “minor skirmish” Torr seems to be having with a neighboring kingdom. Juniper worries about her father, the king, and her people, but she sticks with the plan and heads to the Hourglass Mountains. Little does she know what awaits them in her new kingdom.
This was fantastic! I loved Juniper right from the start. The kids who go with her to the Basin are an interesting mix. The kids are supposed to be 13 or younger, except for Cyril’s crew, which is a little bit of a stretch to me because in some ways they act older, but I chose not to focus on it. I enjoyed the story completely when I put that aside.
Juniper is a great leader, but she is only 13. She has a lot to learn about dealing with difficult subjects, balancing work and play for her people, and deciding what to share and what to keep to herself. Parts of this reminded me of the book The False Prince – the kingdoms, the swordplay and the treachery. It also reminded me of books like The Maze Runner in that it had kids making up their own society (although this is more light-hearted than The Maze Runner).
This book sets up the rest of the series nicely. There’s closure for many of the plot points in this story, but a larger conflict looms that Juniper and her friends will need to deal with. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series!