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The Kingdom of Little Wounds

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,455 ratings  ·  644 reviews
A young seamstress and a royal nursemaid find themselves at the center of an epic power struggle in this stunning young-adult debut.

On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches: brocade and satin and jewels, feasts of sugar fruit and sweet spiced wine. Yet beneath the veneer of
Hardcover, 563 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Candlewick Press
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Natalie Most of the men are .. not good and the sex is worse. That said, there is a glimmer of romance but it is mostly offscreen.
Jo Airey I am 150 pages in and really enjoying it. I am getting Philippa Gregory vibes as I am reading it. I only started it last night and I am surprised at t…moreI am 150 pages in and really enjoying it. I am getting Philippa Gregory vibes as I am reading it. I only started it last night and I am surprised at the rate the pages are flying by, always a good sign. I say give it a go, you might like it. (less)

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Average rating 3.25  · 
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Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Margo Lanagan fans
I love how totally bananas this book is. You don't often see a YA novel where a penis is one of the main characters, and with precious stones sewn into it, no less! (Damsel has a similarly prominent "yard," and is exceptionally awesome too.) But beside that, The Kingdom of Little Wounds is a deeply immersive, very well researched story of sickness and political infighting, set in 16th century Scandinavia. Kind of like Wolf Hall in tone, but with more rapes and viscera.

I recommend it only to the
Oct 20, 2013 added it
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.

Heidi The Reader
The Kingdom of Little Wounds is about a seamstress, a nursemaid and a royal family haunted by illness. It is a, sometimes very, adult tale about secrets, sex and power.

Confession: I picked this one out at the library for the cover.

I saw it and thought, "This must be a young adult fantasy of some kind about a princess who works magic with needles." Sometimes it's nice to indulge in a pleasant escape from the world.

So, this book is nothing like that.

In the afterword, Susann Cokal describes her wor
Gregory Weatherford
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
nemo the emo ☠️ (pagesandprozac)
i nearly rated this book 4 stars but then the end happened and i really couldn't rate it anything less than 5. (view spoiler)

i think the reason why this is rated so low is because everyone it's young adult and people decided it was Too Much
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
I normally wouldn't mark this as read but I needed to be done with this book and let all of you know how disgusting and unnecessary this book is. I am not generally a sensitive person when it comes to violence, honest. But in 60 pages this author managed to cram plague, death, rape, miscarriage, and slut shaming and honestly it served not much purpose besides trying to further a story whose plot has still yet to reveal itself. I would not recommend this book to anyone for any reason.

Which totall
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nicholas Perez
Sep 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book....was A LOT! 3.5/5 stars

A fairy-tale about syphilis.

In 1572, in the fictional Scandinavian Kingdom of Skyggehavn, a mysterious sickness has come over the royal children. Ava Bingen, a seamstress, accidentally harms Queen Isabel why fixing her dress on the night of the eldest princess' (who's 12) wedding. As a result, she is briefly imprisoned, but is freed by Count Nicolas Bullin after the dies suddenly on her marriage bed. Count Nicolas gives Ana a lower servant's position to spy am
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Stuti Rai
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
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
They say you should never judge a book by the cover, and yet the cover is often what pulls my attention towards new authors. Such is the case with The Kingdom of Little Wounds. I saw it sitting on the bookshelf, and thought it looked like a wonderful read. The cover instantly filled my mind with notions of what kind of book it could be, without giving me anything specific. Thus, I flipped it over. The information on the back, however, didn’t fill in all that many blanks. It gave me something, bu ...more
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jenni Frencham
Jan 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i think i got pretty far to understand that i don’t want to continue reading this DNF at pg. 360

• why are Countess Elinor’s breasts described in such a manner ...?
• so she pretty much committed bestiality 🤮
• i actually did not expect that!
• i didn’t think this book would be that
• this chapter was weird.
• there are ear metaphors??
• apparently queen isabel is into BDSM
• and the king is thinking about nicolas while doing the deed ha!
• how can entrails feels
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Kelly McDonough
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the best book I have read this year. I loved it. This is the perfect combination of dark and fairy tale. Not in the way of the redundant efforts of others to rewrite classic stories, but a perfect melding of beautiful written fairy tales as a plot device to further the story; to unwind the mystery of the characters and their deep, dark motivations. The small tales add to the story, which is wonderful itself. Frankly, I am jealous the author has managed to not only master the art of th ...more
Sep 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
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.).
Angela C
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: great-ending
When I was in college, one of the exercises in my Children’s Lit class was to write a story that incorporated two completely unrelated subjects: T-rexes and ballet, bodybuilders and allergies, etc. I have a hunch that The Kingdom of Little Wounds must have originated from a similar exercise, as Cokal’s book combines two subjects that are totally at odds: fairy tales and syphilis.

Yes, you read that correctly. This is a fairy tale about syphilis.

I checked out a lot of other reviewers’ opinions pri
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Riley Lashea
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Susann Cokal’s Mirabilis is my favorite book. And, just like with that novel, The Kingdom of Little Wounds gloriously succeeded in plucking me out of this modern time and transporting me into a storied past. I love Cokal’s writing style. It is lush and stirring, rich in historic detail, and simply a pleasure to read.

A lot of people are stating this is not a YA book. Since I am not a young adult, nor the parent of one, I have very little to add to this. But as a once-teenager who read plenty of b
Brandy Painter
Apr 26, 2013 marked it as set-aside  ·  review of another edition
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.
Blodeuedd Finland
The chance of the main character becoming pregnant and miscarrying is so slim that it was stupid.

How does a man survive with jewels sewed into his penis?

Also lots of rape (read a few reviews so lots and lots of rape)

The world is frankly stupid. Why this weird Scandinavia that is not real? Is is alternate history? And why since everything is historical anyway. Why not make it real then or omg, a fantasy country *eyeroll*

The author said it was a fairytale with syphilis, yeah no thanks
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Susann Cokal is the author of two books for young adults and two for regular adults. Mermaid Moon just came out and is recommended for ages 14 and up. Her previous novel, The Kingdom of Little Wounds, won several national awards, including a Michael L. Printz Honor from the American Library Association.

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