The King's Decree

Fractured & Fabled

Young Adult - Social Issues
104 Pages
Reviewed on 02/24/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In The King's Decree by Torina Kingsley, Princess Devina loved to fill everyone's lives with joy but everything changed when she became fifteen. From that day on, the sunshine disappeared from her heart and facing each day became a struggle. Although her parents tried to make her smile, nothing they tried worked. As Devina faced her sixteenth birthday, her father told her that he had a plan to restore her smiles and laughter. The King issued a decree that all eligible princes would be invited to her birthday party and the first to make her smile would win her hand in marriage. On the day of her birthday party, Princess Devina meets Yasmin, a young peasant girl who has just started working in the palace. Yasmin reminds Devina what happiness is and soon they become inseparable. When Devina has to face a devastating personal tragedy, her depression returns, so she turns to the only person that loves her unconditionally, Yasmin. Devina soon realizes that it is okay to live and love freely and express your emotions. We are all unique and we do not always have to fit into societies expectations.

The King's Decree by Torina Kingsley is an enchanting tale that brings a modern and relevant twist to a classic story. The characters of Devina and Yasmin were created with a great deal of consideration and I believe young girls could easily relate to their personalities. Their dialogue exchanges around their emotions were poignant and heartwarming. The story highlights the symptoms of depression and mental health issues in general with realism and sensitivity. I thought the words spoken by her mother regarding Devina's depression were incredible, “You have to be strong to feel the weight of the world so heavily and still continue to live in it.” Princess Devina's caring personality also came through powerfully when she considered pretending she was happy so no-one had to worry about her. I loved how the barriers of class were removed as a peasant girl and a princess found friendship, love and mutual respect. Unlike traditional fairy tales, where a princess is rescued by a prince, The King's Decree is about two mutual friends supporting one another, finding love and enhancing each other's lives.

Trix Lee

The King’s Decree by Torina Kingsley is a children’s novella about Princess Devina, a young princess battling with depression, and how she found support and companionship from the palace’s kitchen peasant, Yasmin. Princess Devina has been sick since she was fifteen and no one could figure out what was wrong. She always felt exhausted even without doing anything. She just couldn’t find joy in anything — be it from things that she used to like or even from things that she believed everyone and anyone would enjoy. Worried about his daughter, the King issued a decree promising the princess’s hand in marriage to whoever could get her to laugh once again. But happiness cannot be forced and genuine laughter cannot be demanded. Then Princess Devina met Yasmin, the cheerful kitchen peasant.

The King’s Decree was an easy read with a straightforward and socially-aware plot. There was no convoluted plot or complicated conflict that could distract from what the story was trying to tell. Torina Kingsley wanted to write about teenage depression and she wrote it. The emptiness, the weariness, the inexplicable exhaustion, the lack of motivation; she wrote it. What I found most realistic was Torina Kingsley’s depiction of the reaction of the people to Princess Devina’s depression. The actions of Princess Devina’s father, the King, were realistic and understandable, albeit counterproductive. At the end of the day, king or not, he was a father who only wanted the best for his daughter. He was a father who only wanted to get back his daughter’s missing laughter and he did it the only way he thought he could. This is a children’s story — short, easy, simple. But I’d recommend this to adults as well because the social issue that the book presents is something that we all ought to acknowledge.

Jon Michael Miller

In The King’s Decree by Torina Kingsley, Devina, 16, is a princess who suffers from clinical depression—tiredness, indifference, no appetite, crying, self-disgust…. Her royal parents are worried about her, and the king decrees that the first nobleman who can make her laugh will become her husband and heir to the throne. Thus, suitors line up to joke, dance, sing and play music, but to no avail. Yasmin, the same age, is a full-of-life peasant girl in the village who loves the kids and tells them stories. Devina is darkness; Yasmin, light. The two meet in the royal kitchen when Yasmin gets a job there. And their friendship blossoms. Hints arise to their becoming more than friends. Thus, the story develops.

Author Torina Kingsley uses the innovative technique of dual, first-person points of view, letting us hear directly from the darkness of Devina’s consciousness, from the light of Yasmin’s, and the slow fusion of both. I found the story relatable and completely captivating, with a fairy tale flavor yet with serious themes. Depressed youngsters may well find solace here with Yasmin’s diagnosis of Devina being sad just like everyone sometimes, only longer. If Ms. Kingsley provides an answer, it is that of intimate friendship. Yasmin even has the fleeting thought of becoming heir to the kingdom, though that is not for a moment her motivation in befriending Devina. The King’s Decree is a girls’ book and will be a comfort for anyone who feels lost and down and does not know why.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Two sixteen-year-old girls, from very different backgrounds, seek comfort in each other. Devina, the royal princess, and Yasmin the peasant girl who works in the castle kitchens, develop a bond. Devina hasn’t laughed or even smiled in years, and her parents are desperate to see her happy. So much so that the king decides to issue a decree that whoever makes his daughter smile and laugh again may claim her hand in marriage. Devina is distraught at the idea, but, when she meets the new kitchen help, Yasmin, things start to change. Even her mother’s sudden death, and another round of empty sadness, is no match for the compassionate bond the two develop.

Torina Kingsley’s young adult fantasy novel, The King’s Decree (Fractured and Fabled), is a clever re-telling of the Russian folktale, The Princess Who Never Laughed. The story is told in the first-person narrative from two points of view, Devina’s and Yasmin’s, each chapter heading identifying whose point of view is being expressed. It reads somewhat like a fairy tale, but the plot develops with believable circumstances as it becomes clear that Devina is suffering from teenage depression, a condition her parents (like so many parents) fail to understand and are unable to help. It takes a contemporary person, a best friend the same age, to be a silent, caring recipient of the intense hollow feeling that is crippling the young princess and making her so terribly sad. The story will certainly touch some sensitive readers as they will relate to what the princess is going through. Heart-wrenching, poignant, but very relevant to today’s teens.

Tammy Ruggles

The King's Decree (Fractured & Fabled) by Torina Kingsley is a self-help novella for a YA audience wrapped in a fairytale package. Princess Devina is turning sixteen, but instead of feeling happy, she can't get out of bed because she feels so bad. She used to find happiness in dancing, laughing, painting, and playing, but no more. This is how she describes depression. Her father, the king, wants to help her, and the only way he knows how is to offer her hand in marriage to anyone who can make her laugh again. This modern take on a Russian folktale known as "The Princess Who Never Laughed" is the perfect story to reach the hearts and minds of young readers who may be experiencing depression, or know someone who is.

Kingsley has cleverly and earnestly created a fresh fairytale, in fairytale language that readers are familiar with. The author tells an important, engaging story in a way that is helpful without being overly clinical or formal. In fact, you'll care for Princess Devina right away, and will be swept up in the drama. I really like how Kingsley introduces the character of teenage Yasmin, who enters Princess Devina's life serendipitously, prompting a close bond that transcends friendship. Having multiple narrators isn't always necessary, and can be distracting at times, but it really works here as you live inside the everyday world of the two friends. The author seems to have a good understanding of the dynamics of depression and includes a pivotal loss in the princess's life that adds to her condition. The important message contained in this story comes through clearly, but without a bullhorn or hammer. I also like the author's nontraditional treatment of a fairytale ending. The King's Decree (Fractured & Fabled) by Torina Kingsley is a soft way to light the path toward understanding and healing.