Primary Genre(s): Middle grade
Published: 8 March 2021
Page count: 106
My Format: eBook
Do I Recommend: Yes
Commission Link (U.S.): Buy The King’s Decree
My rating: ★★★★☆
A sixteen-year-old princess with depression wonders if anyone else understands how it feels to feel nothing.
When Princess Devina turned fifteen, she struggled to get out of bed each day. Things that used to bring her joy–playing, laughing, dancing, painting–suddenly didn’t. It was as if all her emotions had disappeared, leaving her with a terrible emptiness–and sadness–inside. Her father, the king, vows to help his daughter by issuing a decree for her sixteenth birthday celebration: anyone in the kingdom who is able to make Devina smile will win her hand in marriage. So begins the middle-grade story The King’s Decree, a modern-day spin on the Russian folktale, The Princess Who Never Laughed, masterfully told by author Torina Kingsley.
In the kingdom’s peasant village, lives yet a different teenage girl, Yasmin, who loves her humble surroundings and the people in it. An unlikely encounter with the princess sparks a bond between the girls that runs deeper than friendship.
When tragedy strikes and Devina’s mother passes away, the princess is plunged further into despair and depression. She finds herself running to the person who makes her feel whole, who doesn’t judge her, who accepts her:
“And my heart, as heavy as it was–as heavy as it still is–felt buoyed by Yasmin’s friendship, by her love. Just knowing that she wants to be by my side makes me want to keep standing.”
Author Torina Kingsley expertly weaves a tale that relays the heartbreaking struggle that many teens face today, but that is often left undiscussed: teenage depression. The King’s Decree is a courageous story about depression and love that shines a light on the importance of acknowledging this prevalent illness and supporting the people we care about who are living with it.
I was invited to participate in a blog tour for this book by @BookReviewCrew on Instagram. Here are my pros and cons for The King’s Decree:
- This is a contemporary retelling of a Russian folktale called The Princess Who Never Laughed (aka The Unsmiling Tsarevna).
- There are two great messages in this short middle grade book. The first is that you cannot laugh away depression. Mental health issues aren’t something you can trick into disappearing. The second message is that you don’t have to be a skilled therapist to help someone with depression. Sometimes just being a good friend, being present, and sitting quietly with someone with depression can be helpful.
- There is actually a third lesson here also, and that is for people actually dealing with depression. There are friends and family who will not understand what depression is and they will, with very good intentions, try to cheer you up. I think it is important to not blame them for their ignorance. If someone hasn’t had experience with depression or has no idea how to identify it, rather than getting upset with them for trying to cheer you up, instead try to help them understand what depression is and educate them on what you really need for your mental health. We all learn more when we learn together.
- I appreciated that the King apologized to Devina when he finally understands that she was struggling with something much more profound than just being unhappy. I loved that he apologized to her and emphasized that she was his perfect daughter always, no matter what.
- It felt a little short. I wanted to read more.
Depression is a very common mental health issue and it primarily impacts females. It can also lead to serious health impacts if it is left untreated. This short middle grade story may help someone identify why they are feeling the way they do, or it may help someone understand how to better help a friend with depression. Either way, it is a good book to read for a general understanding of what depression really is.
Thank you to the author for an eBook, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The King’s Decree. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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(images provided by author)
Where the book is available:
Torina Kingsley has always dreamed of becoming a published writer. By the time high school came around, her mind was swirling with tales ready to be told. She finds inspiration for her stories from viewing things from a different perspective, including her most recent book The King’s Decree, a chapter book that is a spin on the well-known Russian folktale, The Princess Who Never Laughed.
Kingsley believes that a great story needs to be relatable and completely captivating, that it needs to drop the reader into a whole new world. She hopes that her young readers are made to think by her stories. For instance, Kingsley has seen that, although very few children’s books reflect characters afflicted with depression and anxiety, it’s something that kids and teens deal with every day, and she wanted to share that in her story. It is also important to Kingsley that characters are diverse characters who can fall in love with anyone, not just those who one might expect. As an author of Hispanic heritage, representing a diverse audience in her books is meaningful to her.
When she isn’t writing thought-provoking and socially conscious young adult stories, Kingsley teaches music and loves working with her students. She lives with her husband and two rescue dogs in the Chicago area where she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.
Social Media Link:
Look for the second book Beyond the Birch on Amazon: https://geni.us/beyond-the-birch
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WordPress: Kayckay Book Reviews