With the royal family poisoned, a kingdom full of regents eager to take the throne, and more than one neighbouring nation just as eager to take the whole of Carthya, Bevin Conner is convinced that his country has one chance to avoid war. The second prince, Jaron, was lost in a pirate attack four years ago. If a convincing replacement can be found, the throne can pass peacefully to the “rightful” heir. Of course, Conner doesn’t mind a bit taking on the task of securing this false prince, nor of offering ongoing council to a boy sure to be out of his depth in the royal court. He just needs to find someone who can pull off his plan.
Suspicious? Perfect. Because Conner’s not the only one who’s lying.
To be honest, it took me a few chapters to get into this one. Sage, one of Conner’s orphan candidates and the narrator of the novel, comes across as arrogant and self-centred at first, and I was a little worried there was a lot of attitude ahead. In fact, though, Nielsen does a beautiful job not only of fleshing out Sage and his fellow characters, but also of putting her narrator’s traits to good use in building her story. And while the central mystery may not stay mysterious for long, there are plenty of twists to keep even alert readers wondering. The book is aimed at 10-14 year olds, but the serious consequences involved in Conner’s plan add enough weight that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to older teens (or adults!) who enjoy adventure with substance.
If you’ve already read and enjoyed the book, head over to YA Reads for Teachers (And Any Other Adults!) on Goodreads to ask the author questions all through May.