A child queen seeks to extend her rule.
Juniper was merely the princess of Torr until she requested and received a (temporary) country for her 13th birthday (Princess Juniper of the Hourglass, 2015). She and her subjects (a handful of kids) have worked for the past three weeks making Queen’s Basin an idyllic settlement. Now, tracking down horse thieves, Juniper comes face to face with the Anju, a tribe that was her late mother’s family, community, and culture. This “reclusive mountain tribe” has just lost its “chieftain,” and because Juniper’s a blood relation, she’s eligible to enter their competitive trials to become their new chieftain. The series’ central premise of Juniper-as-ruler—which in Hourglass reads harmlessly, charmingly like children’s playacting—goes too far here. While neither culture is specified as dark-skinned (and the cover illustration represents Juniper as white), Paquette’s indigenous coding of the Anju gives Juniper’s desire to rule them—and her success at winning that rule—a whiff of settler colonialism. Although Juniper’s half-Anju by blood, she’s an outsider by experience, and she plans to overrule Anju values by using this explicitly “peaceful tribe” as an “army” of “warriors” to oust Torr’s conquerors. In the end, Juniper decides not to keep the chieftaincy she wins, so even the Anju’s right to self-rule is Juniper’s decision.
A story with old-fashioned flavor, not always in good ways. (Fantasy. 8-11)