My Rating ~ Four and a half stars
RELEASED: 28 May 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt
Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.
Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.
Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.
But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.
Ana is a Fantasist, a cyborg style fantasy princess, who lives in The Kingdom with her fellow sisters. It is their job to bring the fairytale kingdom to life and make the park guest’s dreams come true. With the park boasting hybrid animals, some brought back from extinction, mermaids and the chance to star in your very own fairytale, it seems like a paradise beyond imagining. For everyone except the Hybrids, and the Fantasists.
The Kingdom opens with Ana on trial for killing one of the park’s staff and throughout the book we are shown court transcripts, interspersed between chapters, leading up to the day of the trial. Did Ana kill Owen? And if she did, was it a malfunction of her software, or was she really capable of feelings the fantasists were not programmed to have?
This was a dark and engrossing read that cleverly wove a murder mystery with questions of how far we should go for entertainment, and whether creating artificial life should come with rights for the AI’s. I loved that a murder mystery was such a big part of the story, it combined my two loves – fantasy and mystery!
Although I was intrigued by the synopsis, I didn’t actually expect to enjoy this one as much as I did! I’m so glad I read it right away because it was brilliant!
Photo via my Instagram account – Bookbookowl