The mass poisoning of a royal court leaves a girl suddenly queen.
Freya is a socially awkward aspiring scientist and the king’s fourth cousin once removed. At the king’s birthday, her discomfort with society and an idea for an experiment lead her, along with her best (and only) friend, to sneak away. Hours later, her father and royal guards storm her laboratory to secure her—after she left, a mass poisoning at the feast wiped out the king and all those ahead of her in the line of succession. Freya must let go of her dream to travel the world as a scientist, as the surviving royal advisers attempt to force her into the mold of a proper queen. But she knows that whoever killed the court could strike again. There are many with motives: a banned, anti-nobility religious group; the king’s illegitimate son; the advisors; and Freya’s new heir, a beautiful social butterfly newly returning to court. Moreover, the king’s best friend suspects she committed the crime. Freya must untangle motives (and troubles in the kingdom) using intelligence and ingenuity. Although the otherwise tightly plotted mystery’s solution may stretch credibility for some, the characters (largely white) and fast pace will keep readers hooked. The most powerful theme that emerges is the complexity of the individual, which helps to support the strong female friendships that balance the exciting romantic storyline.
A thoughtful and thrilling tale. (Fantasy. 12 & up)