“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings.” Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed. A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you (GoodReads).
- Originality: 7. This is my first alternate history. As a grad student studying history, I love the idea of this fictional tiny country interacting on the stage of real global politics. And I never read about royalty, but I was fascinated. extra points for royalty.
- Absurdity: 7; or not at all. This book is absurd on purpose. Spartacus the Rooster is a bad example for the chickens, encouraging them to misbehave. potential hauntings, and the crumbling castle were explained in such a funny way.
- Level of Paranormal Romance. 2. No paranormals and no romance, unless you count getting over your childhood crush (who might be, in the narrator’s words, “Oscar Wilde-ing” with her brother). Funny yet again! As for the 2 points, they reflect the narrator’s hilarious play-by-play of her attempts to be a witty flirt. Which is a big failure.
- Level of Harry-Potter-ness: 6. The writing is distinctive as a teenager’s journal, but believable and oh so appealing. Are all 1930s princesses this charming? Will they be my girlfriends?An added plus, the action at the end was 100% thrilling.
SIDE NOTE: Why do I love books set on islands off Europe threatened by Nazis in the 1930s? Who even knew this could be a genre?