The King Is Dead

Little, Brown. Jul. 2023. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316519144.
Gr 9 Up–When his father’s tragic death accelerates 17-year-old Prince James’s ascension to the throne, all eyes (and ears) are on the British crown. Racist controversy already surrounds the first Black monarch-to-be, his twin brother Eddie, and the Queen Mother. But James harbors a secret that could make matters worse: he’s gay, too. With mounting pressure to keep up with appearances, James finds refuge in his fledgling secret romance with palace intern Jonathan. One night, Jonathan disappears. James uses all resources at his disposal to help find him—but what if he doesn’t like the truths he uncovers? Middle grade author Dean’s deliciously scandalous YA debut is filled with twists, turns, and social commentary that brilliantly riffs off real-world context. Paparazzi appearances, tabloid articles, and secret notes give off a total thriller Gossip Girl vibe.
VERDICT A perfect storm of royal drama and intrigue. Recommended for all teen collections.

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