When a princess suddenly inherits her family’s domain, she learns there’s more to her ascendancy than meets the eye.
Bettina “Bettie,” princess of the Domain of Hautland, has spent her life in the shadow of her older brother, Asher, the domain’s heir. They enjoy an affectionate, if antagonistic, relationship under the close watch of their father, Wotan (the ruling Buckstop), and stepmother, the Stoptress Allegra. The siblings spend their days at the Royal Academy with a close group of friends, including Hughlan, Willtom, aka W.T., and Mattey, where they prepare for the Royal Progress, a symbolic excursion into the Outlands in which the domain’s best students demonstrate their leadership skills. Bettie and Ash’s roles in the domain are secure until the day Ash decides to play a prank on Bettie during an archery drill—an act that leads to his death, suddenly making Bettie the domain’s sole heir. Despite his reservations, Wotan decides to send her on the Royal Progress to prove she’s as capable a leader as her brother would have been. What begins as a purely ceremonial exercise quickly turns into race against time as a rebellion breaks out in Hautland, threatening the safety of the Buckstop and the domain. Fairchild, in her debut, succeeds at creating a memorable heroine and placing her in a vivid futuristic landscape replete with secrets and potential danger. Bettie grows into a confident leader over the course of the Royal Progress, an evolution Fairchild captures through a series of challenges, both physical and personal. Memorable supporting characters include Hughlan, Bettie’s longtime unrequited love whose intentions may not always be honorable, and Auban, Bettie’s former classmate who left school under mysterious circumstances. Fairchild skillfully brings the futuristic setting to life through a complex back story that never slows the narrative. For all its successes, however, the story’s graphic sexual content may not be appropriate for younger readers and likewise might alienate some adult readers.
Epic in scope, boasting a vast cast and intricate mythology; the sexual nature might be too much for its intended audience, though.