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The Kingdom of Little Wounds

3.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,511 Ratings  ·  455 Reviews
On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s ...more
ebook, 557 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Candlewick
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Michael It's a "teen" book but it has graphic descriptions of disease, sexual violence against women, murder, lots of gore, children dying horribly, the…moreIt's a "teen" book but it has graphic descriptions of disease, sexual violence against women, murder, lots of gore, children dying horribly, the really dark realities of court life in the time, disturbing medicine, and a whole lot more.

It's really, really, really dark. It's beautiful, well written in its grittiness, but it is definitely not for everyone. I enjoyed it (though I'm 33) but it's... graphic. Really graphic.

I'd recommend it for mature teens and older.

It's really dark. As for bad language, I'm pretty sure there's a few instances and there's a few areas where one of the characters describes having sex very briefly.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jubilation Lee
Friends, do you ever read a book and be torn between simultaneously enjoying it and sort of wanting to take a shower?

Because that’s… that’s how I felt, reading Kingdom of Little Wounds.

I mean, holy shit.

I’ve never been one of those historical fiction readers, you understand, who longs for the past. I’m reading books like The Queen’s Vow or Duchessina or… or Outlander, and thinking “Jesus CHRIST I am glad I didn’t live during this time period!” (Or in the case of Outlander specifically, “You’re h
Gregory Weatherford
This novel set in Renaissance Scandinavia is about many things -- friendship; guilt and absolution; the ways stories and their tellers influence lives for better and for worse; daily life in a royal city; disease and medicine and magic.
But most of all it's about power. Who has it, who doesn't, and how it is used and, mostly, how it's abused.
Susann Cokal's tale is the story of how three women, two of them young, find their paths out of powerlessness and helplessness. With so much recent debate
Dec 28, 2013 Gabi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't tell me this novel is not for young YA readers.

Sure, there are things a young reader might not find appealing. It's a thick book. The language is beautiful and very much like something from a British Literature class, and the plot moves at a different pace then maybe some young readers are used to. Because of these things, a reader might put this novel back on the shelf of their library or bookstore, maybe with one final glance at the lovely cover. Maybe they wouldn't look back at all.

Mar 17, 2014 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Margo Lanagan fans
A fairy tale about syphilis.

I am glad Printz committee brought attention to this book and this author (I will definitely read more of Cokal's work), but I pity the school librarian who would buy this book for her collection. Oh, the complaints that are sure to come! This novel is super gory, super explicit, in a super violent way. I am still not sure if some of it wasn't purely gratuitous.

But it was nice to read something totally different. (And often unpleasant, irksome and eye brow-raising.)
Sep 22, 2013 Karissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got a copy of this book to review through Netgalley(dot)com. I loved the beautiful cover and found the synopsis to be intriguing. I really disliked the first half of the book, but the second half was much more interesting and engaging.

The author self-describes this book as a fairy tale about syphilis (which I wish I would have known before I decided to read it) and that is pretty much what it is. The story is set in the 1500’s and mainly follows two girls in their late teens, both are servants
Francesca Burgess
Jun 10, 2013 Francesca Burgess rated it really liked it
I usually don't write comments, but I need to add an important caveat here - although I found this book fascinating, compelling, carefully researched, and very well written, IT IS NOT A YA BOOK. This novel is set in a Scandinavian kingdom in the 16th century, and the narrative alternates between the first person narrative of two young women who are roughly 16-17 years old, interspersed with third person narration. Most of the other principal characters in this novel are adults. I thought of the ...more
Jun 19, 2013 Ionia rated it liked it
I am divided on this book. It is very well written, and it is an interesting story. The problem I have, is that I'm not sure I would classify this as a young adult story.

There are definitely some factors in this book relatively early on that don't exactly match what I expect to find in literature intended for a younger audience.

This being said, the writing in this book is incredible. The story unfolds nicely and is written using beautiful, eloquent language. The story is unique and multidimens
Sep 12, 2013 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fair warning: Do not read this book while eating. Before praising the story, I feel obligated to warn readers of two things. One, this is absolutely not a young adult book and would be vastly inappropriate for a child or teen. I'm generally pretty liberal about what kids can handle, but this one crosses a line. And two, this book is, quite simply, gross, gratuitously and at times unnecessarily so. Read it and you will be an expert, whether you like it or not, on exactly (and in gruesome detail) ...more
Nov 11, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2015, magical-realism
TheKingdomofLittleWounds is not for the faint of heart. The subject matter is beautifully, albeit grotesquely, told and contains many scenes I was shocked to read, including but not limited to anal rape. But this book is more than a sum of explicit scenes. It is a wonderful character study that sheds light on what life might have been like for those individuals who lived in the mid to late 1500s.

If you a fan of history, enjoy reading historical fiction, and are not repulsed by dark content, you
May 04, 2013 Lux marked it as tbr-pile  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-release
This cover is spectacular. (And I would like this book right now, please.)
The Kingdom of Little Wounds
Steph Su
This is not a bad book. It really isn't. It IS odd, however, that this book should be marketed as YA when its themes and motifs of body modification, political and sexual manipulation, and ownership of the body are so, so mature. The casualness with which this book throws about scenes of rape and sexual fantasies and objectification baffles even me.
Actual rating: 4.5. Wow. I could not put this book down. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Horrible, gruesome, utterly awful. But riveting. The writing and story were superb and original and realistic and informative. This was historical fiction at its best: real, smelly, greasy, dirty, bloody, painful, violent. Unromantic in every way, shape and form. It did not sugar coat or pretty up the awfulness of life (whether rich or poor) in the 15th and 16th centuries. I do not know if ...more
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
rewind a few hours back. i'm sleeping inside my school bag, the buzz of teachers and students like an insistent and deplorable bee, i'm cocooned wearing a hat so cozy from my own heat like hot chocolate for freezing feet like song heard and learnt and again.

fast forward a few seconds. someone pulls off my hat, bag is torn away. it is entirely unbearable...

that is a situation akin mine when i started the first part after the itty-bitty fairy tale. that is a situation akin to ava's, given hers is
Oct 21, 2013 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
This book has it all: plague ridden princesses, embroidery, random sludge filled holes in the ground, roast dolphin, strange stars/comets in the sky.

Overall, one of my favorite reads for fall, The Kingdom of Little Wounds is a beautiful dark fairy tale. Comprised of little vignette style chapters focusing on various characters (the aging queen, the wronged seamstress, the devious count), that are almost stand alone little short stories in their own right. Cokal's prose weaves an amazing tableau
Feb 02, 2014 Maggie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-and-kidlit
"I am part of history, whether anyone knows it or not," proclaims Ava, one of the two teenaged female protagonists of this tale set in medieval Scandinavia. The Kingdom of Little Wounds is not for the faint of heart. It's disturbing, but gorgeously written, honest, and completely captivating. For older teens and adults.
Kingdom of Little Wounds is a lush, dense novel of historical fiction. I was sucked in by the author’s writing – in a word, beautiful (yet not overwrought). The time period (1500s) and the setting (Scandinavia) added to my interest. Normally, I don’t get too excited by “palace intrigue” novels, but this one had me, hook, line, and sinker. There was never a point where the action lagged. And I found the ending (it’s a long book) to be most satisfying. A wonderful novel about the powerful (men and ...more
I want to give this book twenty five of five stars! Five of five just doesn't do justice.

Setting the stage: It's 1572 in Scandinavia in the royal courts of King Christian V on the eve of his eldest daughter's wedding. (Aren't you already excited? It's a fairy tale with princesses.) However, poor Princess Sophia is unwell. You see, her mother has The Italian Fire and has had it since before Sophia's birth, so Sophia also suffers from it, and perishes on the night she is to be wed. Here in the co
Dec 06, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-books
Okay - what to say about this book. I'll make a list.
1. This is NOT YA.
2. The premise is strange, but fresh.
3. I never thought I would enjoy a book about syphilis
4. I really want to read the other reviews of this book. I made myself wait until I was done so my thoughts would not be influenced.
5. This is not YA.
6. I loved to hate Count Bullen.
7. I loved Queen Isabel for her craziness.
8. I loved the happy ending.

Yes, a fairy tale about syphilis, with a lot of facts thrown in. By the way, did I men
Brandy Painter
Dec 24, 2014 Brandy Painter marked it as set-aside
So 51 pages into this book I've been treated to two girls having horrifying first time sexual experiences. (Well, one may be dying before it gets to the actual sexual part, but there is a lot of uncomfortable there still.) The third girl's first sexual experience was fine and dandy, but then I got to read all about her bloody miscarriage that took weeks to recover from.

I'm just going to call book-not-for-me and stop there.
Aug 31, 2014 Shaya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read anything quite like this. Imaginative, engaging, strange, gruesome, beautifully written...all my favorite qualities!

This most certainly IS a young adult book. Now, while I don't believe most teenagers would find it interesting, I do believe it is appropriate for them. People are too afraid of educating teens about STIs and safe sex. Teens know sex exists, some of them are even having it, they may as well know how easy it can be to get pregnant or contract unwanted pox. Also, this
Jan 31, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book deserves much better than the ratings it's received so far. As a historical novel about corruption and disease in Renaissance Scandinavia, it's compelling, full of plot twists and complex female characters who struggle with adversity and reveal just how strong they truly are. The relationships between the female protagonists turn out to be the most significant aspects of the story, which is fantastic to see, and the second half of the novel is worth waiting for just to experience how w ...more
The author describes this as "a fairy tale about syphilis," which is true as far as it goes, but it's also a story about three women and how/where they each eventually come into their strength and power.

The author has clearly done a lot of research into 16rh century Scandinavia, particularly disease and medicine (if graphic descriptions of oozing sores or medieval gynecology bother you, you'll probably want to skip certain scenes) and it shows in the occasionally stomach-turning vividness of he
Jenni Frencham
Cokal, Susann. The Kingdom of Little Wounds.

This book received a place on Publisher's Weekly's 2013 top ten list for books for young adults. I can't imagine what the editors at PW were thinking when they rated this book on that list.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds is a story that follows two servants in a royal household in northern Europe. Touted by the author as a "fairy tale about syphilis," the story details the lives of the royal family as they struggle to survive in spite of having an STD, a
Bluerose's  Heart
Jun 15, 2013 Bluerose's Heart marked it as did-not-finish
This is listed as a children's book(YA). PLEASE do not get this for your child thinking it is going to be a beautiful fairy tale. I looked at that gorgeous cover and thought exactly that. I'm still furious, just to be honest, that this is labeled as YA. It's dark and very much an adult book, in my opinion. I only got to about 4% before I realized fully that it wasn't for me. I scrolled through a little more(around 11% or so), and saw that it definitely wasn't. There's talk of STDs and a girl get ...more
Nov 17, 2014 Barbary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let me start by saying...I didn't finish this book. The writing was fine. Very descriptive and scholarly and blah blah blah. Just because a book happens to have teen characters does not necessarily make it a teen book. It also doesn't make it a book that would even remotely appeal to teens, or adults who like teen fiction, or anyone who enjoys happiness or joy or love or a fun compelling story.
This happens to be exactly what I don't like in a book. I read to take myself away from all of the har
DNF @ 22%

objectively, i know this is a well-written book, but lord above is it mind-numbingly boring. and there's only a limited number of times i'm willing to read about wounds weeping pus, a guy with jewels sewn into his cock, and rape (that last one i'm never willing to read about but i will let it go if it doesn't seem to be bordering on gratuitous. i got it the first time that he's forcing her to give him sex so she can keep her job. i don't need any more graphic descriptions from now on.).
Kate Jefford
Apr 13, 2016 Kate Jefford rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

"What to heck ????" - Billy Ray Cyrus reviewing this book
Jun 04, 2015 Nafiza marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
Reasons for the DNF:

I could have dealt with the weirdness of the self-mutilation but what I couldn't really deal with was that none of the characters were likeable. I didn't want to align myself with any of them and while I read Vanity Fair by Thackeray, that was obliged reading and I'm not going to repeat that experience. So while the writing was beautiful, I'll just have to wait and see what else the author comes out with.
s.e.  smith
Nov 23, 2013 s.e. smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Cokal describes this as 'a fairytale about syphilis,' and if that doesn't sell you on this book, I don't know what will. The Kingdom of Little Wounds is a complex layer of narratives from different characters living in a kingdom that seems cursed by disease and misfortune. It's dirty, dark, and snarled--warning for sexual assault and graphic abuse--but it also makes for a lusciously meaty read.
This can only be described as an historical fantasy. Set in Renaissance Europe in a Scandinavian country, the story centers on two servants at the King's court whose lives become entangled in court intrigue and devious plots. It will remind you of Game of Thrones, but with a more feminist point of view. Brilliant conceived and executed, this is a tour de force.
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YA, MG, Seriously: The Kingdom of Little Wounds 16 45 Apr 13, 2015 02:49PM  
2014 Hub Reading ...: Kingdom of Little Wounds 14 105 May 05, 2014 10:47PM  
Mock Printz 2017: The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal 3 64 Feb 05, 2014 11:32AM  
YA stories set in historic Scandinavia? 1 13 May 13, 2013 04:47AM  
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Susann Cokal grew up with a roomful of books and Barbies, with whom she acted out elaborate stories. For a while she lived on the edge of wild land covered in sagebrush and cactus, playing in a dry creek bed. But she was born in California and has lived most of her life by the crashing waves and barking sea lions: In San Diego, she used to write on the beach; in Berkeley, she earned a Ph.D. in com ...more
More about Susann Cokal...

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“In the darkness, fear my light.” 10 likes
“Fate refuses to stop at the pretty part of the tale; Fate insists on more tests of courage and wit, a terrible end, even if the heroine's heart be pure and her crime accidental.” 3 likes
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