Published: January 1st, 2017
“I am sixteen years old and I will die on the morning of my seventeenth birthday. As tradition dictates, I will be sacrificed and my life’s blood will determine which one of my two brothers will be King. My blood will kill one and crown one. My name is Everleigh and I am the Kingmaker.”
The legend of the Kingmaker goes back millions of years. Their magic chooses the rightful King of the Realm and they all die on their seventeenth birthday.
Everleigh is special.
She is the Kingmaker who will live, the Kingmaker who will rule, the Kingmaker who will be Queen.
But not everyone agrees with an age old prophecy that says that a girl will rule the Realm and soon Everleigh is locked in a deadly battle for the throne.
"I loved this book. Can't wait to read the other two in the trilogy. Aimed at the young adult market so easy to read but with a great storyline and likeable characters which will appeal to adults too. [...]
I loved the unpredictable twists through the book and am looking forward to finding out how it all ends." - Kathryn. Goodreads
Because there’s less than a week till Everleigh’s seventeenth birthday, it’s the Kingmaker’s feast. It’s the biggest celebration I’ve ever seen and I’ve been with her since I was seven and she was nine.
The food – more dishes than I’ve ever seen, and they usually have a lot. This is something else, though. There’s a cooked duck with all the feathers pushed back in so it looks like it’s still alive and a peacock with his tail all fanned out.
Everleigh is eating and drinking like she hasn’t a worry in the world. I think I’d feel too sick if I was her. To be honest with you, I don’t know how she does it; she’s never miserable. If I knew someone was going to slit my throat in less than a week’s time I wouldn’t feel like a feast.
Ah, well, that’s that – she’s the Kingmaker as her aunt was before her. She’s a princess too so she gets the best of everything. Oh, you should see some of her clothes, the dresses and furs – fit for a Queen, never mind a princess. And her jewellery, you’ve never seen anything like it. One of the King’s favourites sent her an emerald the size of an egg.
She lets me have her cast-offs too – I’m the best dressed hand maiden this castle has ever seen.
I mean princess is one thing, but Kingmaker is something else. Everyone loves her, no one can take their eyes off her. It’s like everyone wants to make up for the fact that she’ll die so young.
Look at Addyson. She’s a princess too but no one cares about her. But then she’s got the curse on her, so maybe they would if she wasn’t cursed. We’ll never know that though, will we?
The curse? Oh, well her mother died in childbirth. It’s so unlucky, to start your life by ending another – it’s the worst thing. She’s cursed now. Of course, lots of women die during child birth, so all those children can’t be cursed, but little Addyson killed a Queen, see. A Queen is sacred. The King himself can hardly look at her. Her brothers are nice enough and Everleigh’s like a mother to her. But she probably won’t ever marry, nor have children of her own. What man would want to marry the cursed one? Poor Addyson. Of course, she doesn’t know any of that. She doesn’t understand why the King can’t stand the sight of her and bless her, she trails around after him, like one of the hounds trailing around Cook for some scraps. Poor girl.
Hang on, Everleigh’s caught my eye. I bet she wants topping up – the amount of wine she can put away – oof.
I was right; wine.
Oh, it’s just so fancy and lovely here tonight. I topped up her drink and then Millard caught my eye – that’s her brother, you know – one of the brothers who might be King. I reckon it’ll be him – Macsen’s too soft. Kings need to be strong and powerful – and you should see the muscles on Millard.
So, I topped him up too. Oh, he’s awfully handsome. He’s younger than Macsen but I bet it’ll be him. They don’t even look like brothers really, if you didn’t know you’d never be able to tell. Millard is more handsome. He is tall, with a mop of dark hair and dark eyes. Macsen is shorter and fatter, his hair is blonde like Addy’s and his eyes are a lighter brown than Millard’s. He’s not ugly but he’s not as pleasing on my eye as his brother.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – this feast. So, I’m standing on the side of the great hall and, oh, it is great. When you walk in through the doors, the throne is straight ahead of you, but so far it would take you five minutes to get there. It’s full of tables and benches now but usually it’s a bit less crowded. The walls and the ceiling are painted with glorious pictures. It’s so beautiful. I’m on my tiptoes trying to see it all.
I’ve never seen a Kingmaker’s feast before and it is fancy. The main table’s enormous and covered in dishes of food and jugs of ale and wine, too much for any of them to eat – we’ll have a feast tonight in the kitchen, I tell you.
There are so many visitors here too – hundreds of people that I’ve never seen before. A Kingmaker’s feast is something to behold, apparently. It makes me sad and cross. We’ve always known it was coming, of course, but knowing it and being here are different. I feel sick all the time.
Everleigh’s face is flushed from wine, and she’s eating loads. She’s waving her spoon around as she talks to Macsen. She looks so lovely tonight. Lots of the King’s men have their eye on her, especially Brett. Not that there’s much point, though. Poor Everleigh, she’ll never marry, of course. What would be the point? She’ll be dead soon.
Oh, when I say it like that, so matter of fact – which it is – oh, it still makes me shiver. How can she live knowing she’ll die at such a young age? It would kill me.
I think this feast is quite sad really, celebrating the last days of her life. Cook said there’ll be a blessing later, not sure who does it though, probably the wise woman. Wait till you see her, oh she is creepy.
Well the entertainment has started, there’s singing now and it’s wonderful. There’s the usual crew, three of them. They sing and play for the King’s entertainment and it’s so good.
Hang on, summoned again.
Oh, cheeky Millard – he just patted me on my backside. He’ll be King for sure – I might not be Kingmaker, but you can just tell, can’t you?
Why not just make him King then? Indeed. It would spare Everleigh’s life, wouldn’t it?
No, the tradition of Kingmaker has been around forever. Every King is made by the Kingmaker. It’s always the first-born daughter that comes after at least two boys. That’s the one who holds the magic. Well, magic’s not my word – I’m not one for all that dilly dallying. But magic they say it is.
So, King Henry had his two boys and then Everleigh, and then Addyson. So Everleigh will die and so will one of the boys.
Oh, I don’t understand it all really. Apparently, the Kingmaker has the magic blood of the royal line in her. So, when she dies this magic passes on to one of her brothers. Whichever one survives drinking her life’s blood will be King. Eugh, I know – I love Everleigh but I wouldn’t want to drink her blood. They don’t drink much but it will kill one and crown the other.
Ah well. So, the singers have finished and now come the dancers. Soon they’ll all join in and well, to see Everleigh dance you’d think she hasn’t a care in the world.
I love dancing. We dance up a storm in the kitchen at night. I’m not allowed to dance here, of course, but I can’t stop my feet tapping.
I don’t sleep in with Everleigh – she likes her peace, so I leave her to it. It means I get to eat, dance and drink in the kitchen all night, so I’m happy.
Well, there’s something to see. The King is dancing. He doesn’t normally dance. In fact, this might be the first time I’ve seen it. And tonight, of all nights. He probably feels guilty.
Well, the mood’s a funny one. Macsen is his normal self; I can tell – nothing seems to bother him. Cook reckons he’s a little soft in the head, but that seems a bit harsh to me. He’s always smiling. And Millard seems happy enough too. He’s a born King, if you ask me. And our poor King Henry. Maybe he’s dancing to celebrate his last week as King. He’ll be shipped off somewhere when the new King is crowned. Not sure where they go, really. I’ll have to ask Cook.
Only thing is he’ll have to go by himself. Oh, poor man, he never got over the Queen dying like she did. Everleigh looks so much like her, and Addyson probably will as well. No wonder he can’t look at Addyson. It broke his heart when the Queen died.
What can I say? One daughter’s got the death curse on her and the other’s the Kingmaker. One boy will die and one will rule and the King’ll be sent elsewhere anyway.
Who would ever want to be King?
Anyway, he seems happy enough tonight. I like watching him dance. He looks younger. They’re good dancers, both of them. He adores Everleigh. Don’t know how he’ll cope when she dies, but what can he do? She is the Kingmaker. That’s what she was born to do.
I only asked her about it once – being Kingmaker, you know, and she was so matter of fact about it I didn’t ask again. There was no weeping or wailing, no tears. Not that I was hoping for any, of course. She just said: I am the Kingmaker, with a little shrug of her shoulders.
I suppose if you’ve known something since you were so young you wouldn’t even think to question it.
That’s what she said to Cook when Cook asked her too. She said, do you question why you are a cook and I’m a princess? Why one man is King and another a pauper? Why one new born child will die and one will live? How some can survive the black death and others will die almost instantly?
It’s true though. This world is a funny one – I think I’d rather be me than her. Poor Everleigh – she’s too lovely to die.
Well, I’m glad I’m just her handmaiden. Maybe once she’s gone, Millard will give me a job in the new royal household. Aye, he’ll be looking for a wife too. You never know my luck.
Oh, I can’t believe I even thought that. Don’t listen to me. I’m quite giddy with this wonderful night. The music, the laughter, the dancing – the spirits are high in everyone, not just me. Cook brought out a dish earlier and was dancing a jig with one of the stable boys, and she normally just hits them. The girls are grinning and the boys are laughing. The would-be Kings are relaxed and smiling. The King is as happy as I’ve ever seen him. And I see him every day.
Well, this girl who will die too soon is something else. All eyes are on her. She’s so lovely.
So, this is it. Less than a week to go. I can hardly believe it. It’ll fly by, I tell you.
Oh, hang on the King’s on his feet, Everleigh’s taken his arm. They’re going to the throne. Oh, he’s sitting down now. She’s kneeling in front of him. Hang on; I’m going to stand on my stool. She’s still kneeling on the floor and he’s still sitting.
I can’t see – I think someone’s come in to the hall – everyone’s looking but it’s too far away. Curse me for being short.
It’s the wise woman.
Ooh, I can’t help but shudder when I see her. She scares the life out of me. I avoid her at all costs. Whenever I pass her, wherever we are, I can’t meet her eyes. I did once, when I first came here and a shiver went right through me and I swear, all my hair stood on end.
She has the highest place in the court, except for the King and his children, but she’s a scary old thing, if you ask me.
She’s shuffling across to the throne. Her face is covered with the dark hood she always wears. She’s stopped in front of Everleigh.
Oh, I hope she’s not the one who sacrifices her. She’s enough to frighten someone half to death without raising a knife to them. I don’t like to ask Everleigh anything about it so I just nag Cook.
Everleigh’s head’s still down, her neck must be killing. The King is watching the wise woman. Her name’s Halfreda and I make it my life’s work to stay out of her way. I like the witch from the village better, Ginata. She’s so pretty. I try not to take much notice of Halfreda to be honest. She looks at me like she’s judging me. I keep right out of her way.
She’s put her hands on Everleigh’s head. Ooh, I did – I shivered again – I can’t help it.
Everleigh’s standing up now, everyone’s looking at her. Millard’s eyes are so wide. He’s smiling too. I bet he’s thinking he’ll be King.
Oh, what’s she doing now? She’s saying something but I can’t hear it, I’m too far away. Everleigh’s kneeling again and now the King is standing. He’s talking now.
I can hear mumbling but I can’t make out the words.
Oh, Millard and Macsen are going to the throne now. One’s standing either side of Everleigh. Halfreda has a hand on each head.
Everleigh just stood up. She’s got a hand on each of their heads now too. Ooh, they’re kneeling.
Oh, I don’t really know what it’s all about. Another question for Cook. No wonder she rolls her eyes when she sees me coming.
Now the singers are singing again and Everleigh’s hugging her father and her brothers.
Oh, they’re coming back to their seats. I think it’s all over with.
Well, it was a bit exciting. The countdown begins now I guess.
Less than one week until she’s dead. And then what?
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About the author:
Gemma Perfect loves to write. She’s been doing it since she was nine. After a few false starts – self publishing children’s books, and being traditionally published with her romance novella, she has finally found her feet writing young adult historical fantasy books. She is currently writing The Cursed Princess, set five years after The Kingmaker Trilogy finishes, following the adventures of Everleigh's sister, Addyson.
Gemma lives in Wales with her husband Craig and their three boys, Sam, Corey and Oliver. She is happiest when writing, day dreaming and eating smelly blue cheese.
This book sounds super interesting.
I am definitely intrigued by this one! A mix between fantasy and dystopian.
Wow, the concept is intriguing. I'd love to read this book. I am over sixteen of course but the premise of dying on your 17th birthday to crown a kind is wild :)
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