Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Book of Theo

The Queen and the Dagger

Rate this book
In the land of Mankahar, humans have discovered Pacification: a poison whereby speaking animals are rendered mute and docile.

Indigo, a rabbit princess of Alvareth, is on the cusp of inheriting the throne from her aunt, the Regent, who has ruled the northern steppes since Indigo’s mother and sister were killed years ago. When the Order, a society dedicated to fighting Pacification, asks Indigo to join their amassing army, her future seems clear: lead her queendom against the humans, and find the one who killed her mother and sister.

But the day of Indigo’s initiation goes horribly wrong: Pacification has already arrived in Alvareth, and the Regent seizes the opportunity to take the crown.

Threatened with the loss of both her throne and her dreams of revenge, Indigo must defeat her one time mentor and aunt if she is to save her queendom--and her future.

76 pages, Kindle Edition

Published February 1, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Melanie Ansley

6 books32 followers
Melanie was born in Windsor, Ontario to a Chinese mother and a Canadian father, and grew up in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Beijing. She spent all her free time devouring books of every kind—including ones that most adults probably wouldn’t recommend for children. She is currently a producer and screenwriter, with an MFA from USC in film producing.

Melanie enjoys writing dark fantasy stories about the power of language, self-acceptance, and the courage to stand up for one’s beliefs. Her first novel, Theo and the Forbidden Language, was the winner of Best YA at the 2018 IndieReader Discovery Awards, and the sequel, Theo and the Secret of Elshon, will be released November 2021.

If you'd like to know about future releases and get a FREE book, sign up to her reader’s list at https://www.melanieansley.com/subscribe

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
17 (54%)
4 stars
11 (35%)
3 stars
3 (9%)
2 stars
0 (0%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Robin Morgan.
Author 5 books280 followers
April 10, 2019
A while back my inner-child desired to read a fantasy which would also deal with young girl's transition from being a child to being an adult woman, when I found and bought this enchanting book by Melanie Ansley.

In the land of Mankahar where this story takes place, animals have been endowed with the power of speech, the humans are determined to render all animals passive as well as being speechless, by a process known as Pacification which involves the use of a poison.

The protagonist of this story is Indigo, who is a rabbit and the princess of Alvareth, and she’s reaching the age where she can finally became the queen, replacing her mentor/aunt Kalmara who had usurped the throne as its regent when Indigo’s mother/sister had been murdered years ago; and now desires to seize the crown as well.

However, Indigo knows she can’t go it alone to fight the of forces of the Pacification. So, when she gets invited to join the Order whose sole purpose is to combat them, she readily accepts their invitation, and immediately becomes their leader to help her gain her rightful queendom.

The writing is fraught with intrigue, and the humanistic quality the author gives her animal characters in on target; all of which adds to the author’s attention-grabbing and interest-maintaining storyline. Whether or not Indigo’s quest to rightfully ascend to the throne of her rabbit kingdom, and attain the retaliation she desires against humans who seek to rule over and induce Pacification on all animals, I’m not saying; which is why anyone reading this needs to consider downloading a copy of this book, for which I’ve given this book 5 STARS.
Profile Image for Allen.
Author 2 books22 followers
February 18, 2016
Melainie Anseley’s "The Queen and The Dagger" is an engaging novella of a young woman’s coming of age in trying times and in a palace thick with familial intrigue (no surprise, given the title), albeit a family of rabbits. It is an engaging cast of characters, each with unique aspects and motivations. Together they provide variety and surprises as the main character, Indigo, struggles to navigate the hand she is dealt as she hopes to ascend to the throne.

I found the ebook well formatted and the story well-written and nicely paced. The writing was concise and fresh: “The next day Indigo rose with the sun, knowing sleep was impossible. A strengthening wind had already scraped the sky to a clean, hardened blue.”

The story is set in a rich and detailed universe. Clearly the author has carefully developed and imagined the setting. And the loyalties and betrayals make sense as the story progresses. Indigo matures and learns as her perceptions of herself and her role evolve through the story.
Though the story could have been a simple coming of age/wronged princess finds her way, it is more complex than that as Indigo struggles with conflicting desires. I won’t spoil the ending, but what she thinks she wants when she starts and where she winds up are not exactly the same thing.

The volume of characters and their unique names put me off a bit, and several times I suspected that I would have enjoyed the story more if it were told with people rather than animals (though it would have been much less unique). But those are minor complaints about a well-written and fun story that will keep you engaged and guessing about the ending.
Profile Image for K.A. Krisko.
Author 14 books77 followers
March 11, 2016
This is an excellent, richly-imagined short book for older children/younger teens, combining elements of fantasy, myth, and storytelling tradition. The reader remains fully immersed in the world from the first sentence. Editing is impeccable. There’s nothing to distract you from the well-paced storyline.

The characters are unique and carefully drawn. No one is perfect, but each has her own merits. The plot is true epic fantasy, a great introduction to swordplay, quest, and chosen-one themes that run throughout contemporary adult fantasy works. Pacing is steady, with no dead spots. The setting is unique and familiar, yet alien at the same time. It will feel most familiar to children graduating from elementary anthropomorphic animal stories to more advanced chapter books and novels. There are betrayal, danger, and personality clashes as well as fellowship and alliance. It has a Lion King-feel to it, of fate and inevitability not wholly under the control of the actors.

After finishing this book (in one sitting!) I immediately checked for more in the series. This is one I’d like to follow. It brought me back to the childhood tales I loved to read, yet it was sufficiently advanced for adult readers. Recommended for just about anybody.
Profile Image for Loralee.
Author 12 books71 followers
March 4, 2016
The Queen and the Dagger is an excellently written novella about a young rabbit princess named Indigo on her journey to becoming Queen. A frightening thing is happening to the Blackmoon wolfpack, their neighbors; an incurable, dreaded disease called Pacification. But that isn’t her only trouble. Her aunt, regent since the death of Indigo’s mother, is reluctant to give her the rule of the queendom, and Indigo's aunt has gone and married the young rabbit princess' father, as well! How Indigo deals with all these problems is very skillfully written, and if you want to find out what happens, you should read it. If you enjoy stories like the Redwall series, this is a book you will enjoy. For me, was a delight to read! And it’s exciting to know that this appears to be just the beginning of a very exciting tale! I was given a copy of The Queen and the Dagger in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lynn Sheridan.
Author 24 books16 followers
August 9, 2016
A lot of thought has clearly gone into creating the world in which this book lives. There are a great number of rich characters and places each with their own fascinating histories. It is very well written and flowed at a good pace. I particularly enjoyed the way the pace picked up towards the end. At times I struggled to decide whether they were normal sized animals with people traits or people sized animals. There were times when it felt like Watership Down, the wolf run at the beginning, and other times when it felt like the Wind in the Willows, the Muskrat scene for example. That wasn’t a huge deal, as it’s still a very entertaining story.
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Neven Carr.
Author 3 books71 followers
March 15, 2016
A Fantasy Lover’s Delight.

This novella has it all.

A fantasy world so plausibly thought out, so vividly described, I could sense myself actually being there.
Protagonists and antagonists, clearly defined in their roles, where they [although animals] appear human-like in their behaviours, in their personal endeavours and in the way they combat their weaknesses.
A plot that is strong, emotional but succinct enough to move the story along, to the point that I [not a fantasy reader] am compelled to know what happens in the next book.

A must read.
Profile Image for Louise White.
Author 3 books341 followers
April 22, 2016
Leave all preconceptions at the door with Melanie Ansley's inspired introduction to the Books of Theo. With wonderfully written animal characters, this is a wild ride for adventure lovers of all ages.
Indigo is a royal who finds more than she bargained for as her initiation goes horribly wrong.
 I loved this novella with its lively characters and suspenseful plot. If you're looking for a flavour of what the series is about, The Queen and the Dagger will definitely leave you hungry for more.
Profile Image for Ruthie Jones.
1,003 reviews45 followers
May 31, 2018
I suggest reading this novella before reading Theo and the Forbidden Language. It's not necessary, of course, but this short prequel does provide Indigo's backstory and her motive for seeking vengeance and fighting for her right to be Queen. You won't get this level of detail on Indigo in Book 1, so take advantage of the opportunity to know this rabbit a bit better before you dive into the adventure!

"A wolf without a pack was simply a wild dog. No clan, no kin, no purpose."
Profile Image for OldBird.
1,535 reviews
June 9, 2021
What an unusual coming of age tale (or maybe tail?) this was. It's one that takes your YA tough but naive princess trope and presses it firmly into the same mould as Redwall with a side order of Watership Down. Our wannabe warrior princess... is a bunny.

Indigo is all set to become Queen of her clan, just as soon as she passes the challenge that marks her passage from kit to grown up. But the challenge - already deadly enough considering it involves wolves - is thrown off course by the fact that this year's wolf pack aren't your friendly(ish) talking kind. They've been Pacified - had the power of rational thought taken from them by Man. Indigo is convinced that she must lead her clan to rise up in defence of all animalkind, but her despot aunt regent has other plans.

I fell in love with the writing and the clear way in which everything about the world is conveyed. A little bit more description would have helped really picture the scenes (where these shoe-wearing bunnies? Bunny/human/furry-type beings? Where their "warrens" dug-outs or tents?), but the simplicity of the way things are explained is up there with some of the best YA fantasies. Indigo's a flawed, hot-headed character, but one that's easy to want to see succeed The politics of the animals and the history of humans, language, religion and magic are all things of beauty.

This works perfectly well as a stand-alone prequel, and the resolved-but-still-open ending will likely leave you wanting more without feeling the need to curse any cliffhangers. Very nicely done fantasy fare.

-I received a free copy of this e-book in a giveaway. This does not influence my review-
Profile Image for Joy Lo-Bamijoko.
306 reviews6 followers
June 6, 2018
This book took me on a journey into the fantasy world of the rabbits, the world known as Alvareth. They have their god named Aktu, and their warriors always at war with the wolves with whom they share their world.

Indigo is the Crown princess of this world. She became the crown princess after the death of her mother, queen Delamar. She had to challenge her aunt Kalmara who became the regent to become queen. In her complicated world of intrigues, will she be able to prove herself worthy of becoming queen?

It is an interesting read. The story itself is intriguing. I wondered about the word “kit…”
Profile Image for Karen Ingalls.
Author 8 books79 followers
January 16, 2019
An enjoyable short read about rabbits, wolves, and humans. Indigo is the primary character who shows skill with a sword to win the title as the new ruler. It is a well-written novella and even though I knew it was a fairy tale, I had trouble imagining rabbits with swords, friends of a bear, and outsmarting wolves.
Profile Image for Sharon.
1,219 reviews16 followers
March 31, 2018
A good introduction to a great new fantasy series for older children. If it had been more than an intro it would have rated a 5, but it just needed more to it for that. It does make you want to continue to the next book.
Profile Image for Jane Blythe.
Author 85 books1,182 followers
April 6, 2016
Indigo is a young rabbit princess who is supposed to complete her rite of passage into adulthood and then become queen, only something gets in the way. Well more accurately someone gets in the way. I thought this was a beautifully told story of fighting for what you believe in, growing up, and self-understanding.

I really liked the character of Indigo, I thought, even in this short novella, that she grew as a character, understanding that perhaps she wasn't as ready to fulfil her dreams and aspirations as she thought she was. I loved her inner strength, her determination, her desire to fight for what she thought was right, and yet at the same time I enjoyed her vulnerability, especially in regards to her deceased mother and sister, and her father and step-mother. I also enjoyed some of the minor characters, especially Indigo's two sisters, and would have loved to find out more about them, although perhaps there was in the first book in the series, or perhaps there will be in another story.

I thought the book was well written, the world and the characters well developed and nicely described, although at the beginning it took me a little while to sort out in my head how all the different people and groups all fitted in, and get a bit of a handle on the backstory with the language and the "pacification". I thoroughly enjoyed this story and thought it was a great read for kids!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Vera.
Author 10 books7 followers
April 29, 2016
Because this novella is only one installment in a saga, the reader has only a short sojourn in the alternate reality that it chronicles. The fantasy world of Mankahar is beautifully detailed and richly textured, as are its animal denizens. Indigo, crown princess of the matriarchal rabbit nation of Alvereth, from whose point of view the story is narrated, is an engaging character, easy for the reader to identify with. We become familiar with her family, her feelings and the formidable challenges she faces. The incident in her life that we witness in the present story is a crucial one, but we also get some of her past history and a brief glimpse into the quest on which she is setting out.
The plot is soundly constructed, plausible and moves along at just the right pace. It is well balanced between action and reflection, memory and resolve. The language is accessible and also poetic enough to read aloud, though the many unfamiliar places, names and designations might prove difficult for younger readers. I’m not sure who the target audience is: I imagine girls of 10 to 14. I would recommend it to a romantically inclined adolescent.
For my own part, I can readily accept animals talking and interacting with unlikely other species , and I’m fully cognizant of humans as the arch-villain, I do have some difficulty picturing rabbits with swords.
Profile Image for Lora Shouse.
Author 1 book28 followers
October 27, 2016
This story is the prequel to Theo and the Forbidden Language, the first book in the Book of Theo series.

In the land of Mankahar, the animals can talk. But the king of the animals who call themselves Men has used the written word to discover how to Pacify the other animals and rob them of speech so that his kind might control and rule over them. So the animals banned writing and termed those who knew how to read and write “omatjes” or sorcerers who should be put to death.

Crown Princess Indigo of the Alvareth clan of rabbits lost her mother and older sister to one of these “omatjes” – a muskrat who carried a knife with writing on it – seasons ago. Now she is ready to come of age and be crowned Queen of her clan. When she has, she would like nothing better than to join the Order – a group of animals dedicated to fighting the Men trying to enslave them – and lead her people in the fight to avenge her mother and sister. Unfortunately, the wolves against whom the young rabbits must test their abilities before being initiated into adulthood have unexpectedly been Pacified, and Indigo’s aunt, who has served as regent for the past ten seasons, does not intend to give up power easily.
Profile Image for Scott Spotson.
Author 15 books109 followers
April 12, 2016
What an elegant book! Carefully crafted, this story of a complex anthropomorphic rabbit society holds the reader in spellbound wonder. The character of Kalmara, who is too likeable, deft, and intelligent to be a villain, is particularly well done and the relationship between Kalmara -- aunt -- and the main character, Indigo -- niece -- defines this book.

My only reason for not giving this full ranking was the gentle foray into the proposition that the written word was the historic downfall of the rabbit society -- indeed, the entire animal kingdom as opposed to mankind. This book puts forward the thesis, but does not fully explain how that came to be. This is an intriguing theory, and I would have liked to see it explored more, as the author built up the premise of the book upon this.

Profile Image for R.A..
Author 7 books6 followers
March 8, 2016
Rabbits with swords! Loved it! First, I would like to say that I am not a person who generally likes animals as characters. It's just not my thing. But these rabbits are so relatable! And the premise is so cool. Indigo, the main character is well developed and seems very real. I loved the conflict in the story with the regent. Awesome, unexpected ending! And come on, it's rabbits with swords, people! What could be better than that? Go click that buy button if it sounds at all interesting to you! I'm sure you'll love it! :)
Profile Image for Lizbeth Gabriel.
Author 1 book33 followers
September 19, 2020
This is an unusual book. It's one of those fence-sitting books for young readers that adults can read and vice versa. A younger reader won't get the subtle nuances while an older reader might find some characters and notions overly familiar, yet both will enjoy it for different reasons. Personally, it reminded me of Le Guin. Definitely worth a try, effortless, flowing prose, well written dialogues, no mistakes, crisp descriptions... Overall a page turner and very professional. I don't know why it wasn't my cup of tea. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jack Anderson.
Author 5 books1 follower
July 12, 2016
There are so many great things to say about this book. Ms. Ansley has the unique ability to attract readers who don't normally like animals as main characters. Her elegant writing style and crisp attention to detail allow the characters to jump off the page with human qualities and emotions. The story has enough action and suspense to keep the reader thoroughly engaged and wanting more. I did not want to put it down.
Profile Image for Kerry Reis.
Author 2 books37 followers
December 27, 2016
In this short novella, the back story of Princess Indigo, the royal rabbit warrior from the Alvareth queendom and one of the twelve selected apprentices of the Order, is presented, telling how Indigo’s mother, the warren’s queen, was killed and the conflict that developed between Indigo and her aunt, the queen regent. Even though the tale stands very well on its own, its value as a backstory to “Theo and the Forbidden Language” is strong and works even better being read after the main novel.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.