Having ruled a community of children for a month, a princess heads home to free her kingdom from enemy invaders.
When Princess Juniper received a “brand-new, all-kids country” for her 13th birthday (Princess Juniper of the Hourglass, 2015), she created a romantic valley settlement for her 13 subjects; encountering the Anju, the reclusive, tribal culture of her late mother, she befriended them (Princess Juniper of the Anju, 2016). Now her father’s been overthrown by enemies back at the real castle, so she plots “How to Overthrow a Palace When You Are Understaffed, Underarmed, and Underaged.” Juniper’s team—including a deaf spy who lip-reads implausibly well but also signs and uses a patch of dark fabric stuck to her arm for writing on with chalk—haunts the castle’s hidden hallways and causes “little pranks and mischiefs” until they can manage a true upheaval. Twists and traitors abound, but between luxurious details (foods; a bone-handled comb always in Juniper’s sleeve) and Paquette’s playful diction (“spizzerinctum”; “curiously curious”; “Ruffians we have aplenty”), the vibe is “energetic mayhem” or “showtime!”—never scary. The narrative pace meanders a bit; the appeal is situation and intent more than action. The Anju have only a small role, though it’s still highly problematic for an indigenous-coded group to be at Juniper’s beck and call, even with their blood connection. Everyone besides mixed-race Juniper and the Anju is white.
For fans of old-style stories. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 8-11)