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That Inevitable Victorian Thing
Contributor(s): Johnston, E. K.
ISBN: 1101994975     ISBN-13: 9781101994979
Publisher: Dutton Childrens Books
    OUR PRICE: $16.19  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: October 2017
Annotation: Preparing for her arranged marriage and coronation in an alternate-universe near-future where the British Empire never fell, crown princess Victoria-Margaret, a descendent of Victoria I, embarks on a final summer filled with balls and freedom before forging an unusual bond with a geneticist's daughter and a shipping heir. Simultaneous eBook.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Love; Fiction.
Intersex people; Fiction.
Princesses; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2017010303
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 6.00" W x 1.00" (1.00 lbs) 326 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 August #2)

What if the British Empire never fell, and its traditions of debutante balls and royal matchmaking survived into the 21st century? In this vividly imagined alternate history, set in the near future, the Church of the Empire runs a DNA-matching service to ensure that mates are biologically compatible, both for commoners and for royals such as Crown Princess Victoria-Margaret. When the heir spends a summer living under an assumed name in Canada, an unexpected love triangle with newfound friends Helena and August illuminates the limitations of the system and of these young adults' self-conceptions. The introduction of an intersex character shines a spotlight on the individual's fear and confusion, and on the necessity of finding a safety net of understanding. The characters all have secrets, and the politeness inherent in Victorian attitudes will only conceal them for so long. It's a powerful and resonant story of compassion, love, and finding a way to fulfill obligations while maintaining one's identity. As with the dragon-infested modern world of Johnston's The Story of Owen, the thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and humor in this alternative Earth are rewarding on multiple levels. Ages 12–up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2017 August)

Gr 9 Up—Years from now, Victoria-Margaret will be the next Queen and continue the work her ancestor Victoria I started two centuries earlier: to strengthen the British Empire for all of its people, and promote genetic diversity and inter-Empire politics with an advantageous marriage. First, the crown princess will have a summer of freedom for her debut season in Toronto. Although her brown skin, epicanthic fold, and freckles make her easily recognizable as the current Queen's daughter, Margaret is able to disguise herself with the help of her natural hair and a civilian alias. Helena Marcus is looking forward to a quiet debut in New London and making her unspoken understanding with August Callaghan official. August wants nothing more, but hopes to delay their official engagement until he can see himself clear of the American pirates plaguing his Canadian and Hong Kong Chinese family's lumber business. When her mother's position as a placement geneticist brings Helena to the far more prestigious Toronto debut scene, she and Margaret strike up an immediate and easy friendship with a hint of flirtation. Spending the summer up north at the Marcus cottage near Lake Muskoka allows Margaret to see more of the Empire and to find her own place among the raucous Callaghan family. Helena's chemistry with both Margaret and August crackles despite being couched in Victorian manners and conventions. As Margaret, Helena, and August grow closer and learn more of one another's secrets, they realize they may be poised to help get everything they've long wanted. Johnston's standalone novel blends light science fiction elements in a near-future setting with the tone and style of a Victorian novel. Chapter headers including maps, society gossip pages, and correspondence serve to expand the detailed world-building and highlight the Empire's deliberate and thoughtful inclusivity (despite realistically damaging colonialism in the Empire's distant past). VERDICT A clever and self-aware novel set in a fascinating world, this witty and romantic story is a must-read.—Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.