The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

The Kingdom of Little Wounds is about a seamstress, a nursemaid and a royal family haunted by illness. It is a, sometimes very, adult tale about secrets, sex and power.

Confession: I picked this one out at the library for the cover.

I saw it and thought, “This must be a young adult fantasy of some kind about a princess who works magic with needles.” Sometimes it’s nice to indulge in a pleasant escape from the world.

So, this book is nothing like that.

In the afterword, Susann Cokal describes her work as “a syphilitic fairy tale.” There’s nothing wrong with that. It just really wasn’t what I expected and wanted it to be.

This tale has rape and madness to it. There’s also some torture, severing of body parts and other pretty gross stuff that goes on.

It is definitely geared towards an adult audience. Librarians, please put it in the proper collection. It is not young adult.

The main characters, Ava and Midi, are likeable but powerless. “I truly would like to think I’m in the middle of a fairy tale, facing the period of hardship that precedes a triumph. But I am not a likely heroine.” pg 9, ebook.

The king, Christian, is ridiculous and controlled by his courtiers. “Have you found any… any culprits?” Sir Georg hesitates, and the favorites tense. Who will be blamed? A Lutheran? … Or perhaps some cousin with a tenuous but plausible claim to succession – someone who should be removed for the health of the court anyway?” pg 77, ebook. Notice how they are unconcerned with justice.

Alliances and power shift quickly in this story like the tide. The characters never know who they can trust. “We are all, of course, in service of the Crown and King. Who is known for being liberal with his gratitude, no matter what the rank of the creditor.” I recall something my mother used to say: Be wary of a promise without a clear price.” pg 131, ebook.

Also, in the afterword, Cokal shared that a piece of this story, the appearance of a star, actually happened in Europe in the late 1500’s, early 1600’s. “The new star has put all of us off balance. We’ve always expected things to change down below, in the canals, the streets, and so on, but the heavens have been constant in our memory. This star shines even in the daylight, as if to drive away the sun. It is so bright that it seems heavier than the rest; we have the impression that if we were to stand on tiptoes, we might touch it.” pg 192, ebook.

Recommended for readers who aren’t bothered by dark themes and are in the mood for a “syphilitic fairy tale.”

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements Share this Librarian's Blog:
Like this:Like Loading...