cover image Allies & Assassins

Allies & Assassins

Justin Somper. Little, Brown, $18 (496p) ISBN 978-0-316-25393-2

Somper (the Vampirates books) launches his first series for teens, in which a 16-year-old prince takes the throne after his older brother is assassinated. Before Jared can be crowned prince of Archenfeld, he and his court must track down Prince Anders’s killer and exact justice. Though they swiftly find their chief suspect, questions remain; Asta, the Physician’s apprentice, believes the true murderer is still on the loose. As other bodies turn up, Jared and Asta navigate a complex web of political intrigue where anyone might be a killer and a traitor. Drawing on premedieval Welsh courts for inspiration, Somper breathes life into the inner workings of his fantasy kingdom, which feels like a lost European territory. The cast is sprawling and complicated; some characters all but fade into the background while others practically chew the scenery. With its focus on forensics investigation and suspense, this is both political thriller and royal drama. Though the story takes place over just a few days, the pacing is slow, but the underlying story is solid and entertaining. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Philippa Milnes-Smith, LAW, Ltd. (May) [/em]