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The King's Decree: (Fractured & Fabled) Paperback – March 8, 2021

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Inspired by the Russian folktale The Princess Who Never Laughed, The King's Decree alternates its chapters between two young female protagonists - Princess Devina who suffers from depression and Yasmin a kitchen maid who befriends the Princess. Although initially surprised by the inclusions of dual narrators, I quickly warmed to both characters and I found their journeys through the story to be equally compelling.

The King's Decree is a short story that covers many important topics. These topics include: depression and mental health, grief and loss, loneliness and isolation, and friendship and love. What is most impressive however is how these topics fit and flow together effortlessly within the story. At no point does the plot feel forced or the pacing rushed. Devina and Yasmin's stories come together and lead naturally into the exploration of these topics.

Aimed at older children and teenagers, author Torina Kingsley wrote 
The King's Decree in the hope of bringing awareness of mental health to young people through literature. The short story depicts both sides of mental health - what it can be like living with mental health issues (Devina's story) and how it can feel when someone you care about is struggling (Yasmin's story). This story is impactful because it normalises both having and talking about mental health issues. Kindness is encouraged and the importance of being there for others is discussed. Crucially, The King's Degree explains to its younger readers that mental health is a complex thing that takes time to heal. There is nothing wrong with not feeling alright all of the time.

The longer I read this story the more I enjoyed it. 
The King's Decree is easy to read with an engaging narrative and realistic protagonists. I wish Kingsley every success in reaching younger readers with her work however I also feel readers of all ages could find meaning in the message of this short story." -Lair of Reviews, Miriam Atkinson


"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."
-Readers' Favorite, 5 stars


"The King's Decree is a novelette recommended for all ages, but especially will reach young adults looking for a unique, appealing vision as they learn about depressed Princess Davina and scullery maid Yasmin, who becomes her friend. Advanced elementary grades to teen readers will find it an easy read that embraces many topics, from depression and friendship to grief and the effects of isolation.
Based on a Russian folktale, 'The Princess Who Never Laughed', The King's Decree evolves a compelling, emotional story of two young ladies who are torn in different ways. It approaches mental health issues from two perspectives, cultivating a tone and insights designed to reach younger audiences who may not normally pick up books about understanding mental illness. The presentation draws readers in with atmosphere and understanding right from its opening lines: "Once upon a time, there lived a princess named Devina. Well...maybe "lived" isn't the best term. It's not that she was a zombie, or some other undead creature roaming the countryside and terrorizing villagers. She didn't sleep in a coffin either, like vampires do. In fact, her bed was very comfortable. No, she was human. She just never felt very lively."

When a cheerful, engaged young woman is cursed on the eve of her 15th birthday, she feels " if all of her emotions had disappeared, leaving her with a terrible emptiness inside."

Other books about mentally ill characters often focus on the faces they present to the world, or come from the viewpoints of those who try to help them. The King's Decree presents these perspectives and feelings in a very personal, relatable manner, bringing young readers into not just the causes and presentation of depression and sadness, but how these emotions effect perspectives on life and how to live it.

It's heady thinking for a younger age group...but key to developing the kinds of coping skills that will lead to better understanding and empathy for those who are mentally ill and still functioning in the world, albeit in a reduced capacity.

Having the folktale overlay these experiences lends not only to better understanding, but encourages discussions as it probes the daily lives and efforts of those who struggle with mental illness: "At first, I was dismissive of this plan that my parents hatched. Now, a week after the princes have started arriving, I am almost desperate for one of them to succeed. At least then I would know that I'm not broken, forever incapable of feelings. I would make my parents, and the rest of the kingdom, happy. I would re-inspire hope in our people. I would quell the rumors and whispers forever. Maybe I would even be genuinely happy. Instead, I feel even worse than usual."

The blend of folk story/fable and treatise on coping with mental conditions both as the sufferer and a friend on the outside results in a creative, involving story presented in a digestible, succinct, yet quite compelling format. This is especially notable because those who should read it most - the young and those suffering from mental illness themselves - often lack the ability to plow through dense or weighty reading.

There's nothing on the market quite like the approach of The King's Decree. It's a highly recommended read that should be in the collections of anyone interested in explaining and exploring mental illness, friendship, and emotional support systems to all ages." 
-Midwest Book Review

From the Back Cover

Princess Devina was just like any other girl until one day, a mysterious illness struck--one that seemed to sap her happiness, leaving her in a fog. Desperate to bring her joy, the king and queen decreed that anyone who can make the princess smile would win her hand in marriage and become heir to the throne. But is that really what she needs?

A twist on an old fable, Devina battles depression, finds love in an unexpected place, and discovers that everything she's longed for has been inside herself all along.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Trunk Up Books (March 8, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 106 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1734906243
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1734906240
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 13 - 18 years
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 3.99 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5 x 0.24 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

About the author

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Torina Kingsley has always dreamed of becoming a published writer. By the time high school came around, her mind was swirling with tales ready to be told. She finds inspiration for her stories from viewing things from a different perspective, including her most recent book The King’s Decree, a chapter book that is a spin on the well-known Russian folktale, The Princess Who Never Laughed.

Kingsley believes that a great story needs to be relatable and completely captivating, that it needs to drop the reader into a whole new world. She hopes that her young readers are made to think by her stories. For instance, Kingsley has seen that, although very few children’s books reflect characters afflicted with depression and anxiety, it’s something that kids and teens deal with every day, and she wanted to share that in her story. It is also important to Kingsley that characters are diverse characters who can fall in love with anyone, not just those who one might expect. As an author of Hispanic heritage, representing a diverse audience in her books is meaningful to her.

When she isn’t writing thought-provoking and socially conscious young adult stories, Kingsley teaches music and loves working with her students. She lives with her husband and two rescue dogs in the Chicago area where she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

Customer reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Depression is manageable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 11, 2021