This is the story of Owen Kiskaddon, the youngest child of the Duke of Kiskaddon. During the last battle the Duke had participated in with his king, he had committed treason by not coming to his King’s assistance as ordered. Because of this his oldest son is executed and his youngest son is sent to the King as a hostage.
At eight, Owen understands little of these things; his brother will never come home, and his parents have abandoned him with the King. He is unaware that his parents sent him as the only way they could – with the hope of saving his life. All he knows is that the return of his father brough Lord Horwath, who is there to take Owen to Kingfountain to be with other hostage children and also the King. He becomes a very homesick little boy, who hardly speaks at all. Everything is new to him. There is kind, and even loving, people who care for him, but he is also introduced to those who frighten him, one of which is King Severn.
All the children eat breakfast with Severn. There are tables full of food and no chairs, so the children gather around the tables and take whatever they would like, and Severn observes what foods are eaten and takes some of those foods. In this way he believes he can avoid being poisoned. As he walks among the children he verbally lashes out at nearly every child, humiliating each one.
In time, Owen meets Ankarette, who is the Queen’s Poisoner and thought to have been executed. She lives in hiding, since Severn believes she poisoned his pregnant wife, killing her and their unborn son. Ankarette is a lovely, peaceful woman, also very mysterious. She soon begins to teach Owen of the many mysteries of the castle – full of secret passages and spyholes. She also tells him of people who are Fountain-blessed. The people worship water, and therefore the fountains, and executions are carried out by the water in the rivers. Those that are blessed have special powers and Ankarette is one. Ultimately, what she wants is for Owen to influence the king. It is the only way she believes Owen’s family can be saved.
Horwath brings his granddaughter to live at the castle and be a playmate for Owen. Her name is Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer and she insists that others call her by her full name, but Owen convinces her to let him call her Evie. She thinks he is adorable, and even though Owen takes awhile getting used to Evie’s constant talking, they develop a close relationship that at times leads to trouble, which she finds and takes Owen along with her. Evie is sure that her grandfather has brought her to meet Owen so that in time they will marry, but Owen’s greatest goal has always been to go home. It will be only with Evie’s help that Owen can manage to influence Severn.
This is a great story with twists and turns, which I enjoyed very much. Any reader who likes surprises will enjoy this. Usually detailed descriptions will put me to sleep, but in this book they were wonderful embellishments that enriched my reading experience.
- Genre and reading age – Suspense/fantasy for older teens and adults.
- Level of sexuality – None
- Is there graphic language? No.
- Did I cry? Yes.
- Did I laugh? Yes.
- Is this part of a series? Yes, The Kingfountain series.
- Level of character development – I found Owen and Evie to be more capable of mature conversation than I would think 8-year-old children are capable of. However, that did not interfere with my enjoyment of the story.
I definitely will read the next book. I give this story ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars.