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, all seen through the eyes of a couple of servants.
What I liked: The cover is beautiful. The writing is excellent. I enjoyed the fairy tale qualities of this book, and I can imagine my middle school or high school self picking up this book based simply on the synopsis and the cover art.
What I didn't like: Pretty much everything else. This book is VERY graphic, to the point that I do not think it is appropriate for tweens or teens at all. I would not ever recommend this book to a teen or a child. I would barely recommend this to an adult. This is a very long book, and it's filled with graphic death scenes, sex scenes, rape, etc. In the first sixty pages alone there are three sex scenes, one of which ends in a death and one of which is forced. The first rapist we meet has jewels sewn into his penis so he can keep them on himself in case of emergency, with the added bonus that he gets to enjoy hurting those women he rapes. One of the protagonists believes that she was impregnated when her fiance ejaculated onto her stomach: she says that his "seed" must have found its way inside her to make her pregnant.
I spent most of the time while reading this book either shuddering in disgust or shaking my head in disbelief. People who enjoy well-written books and are not bothered by graphic violence and sex might really enjoy this book, but it's not one I would ever put in my library, nor would I consider recommending it to my patrons. I'm not sure why Publisher's Weekly passed up so many good books to put this one on their top-ten list for this year.
Recommended for: no one. Adults, maybe. Fans of Fifty Shades, probably.
Red Flags: the entire book! Graphic sex, rape scenes, violent, explicit deaths, lots of alcohol use (some probably by the readers so they can stomach this book)
Overall Rating: I'd give this zero stars, but that's not an option on GR.