‘The Kingdom’ – Jess Rothenberg

Welcome to the Kingdom, a dazzling fantasy theme park where ‘happily ever after’ is not just a promise, but a rule . . .

The Kingdom is a place where technology helps dreams come to life. Formerly extinct species roam the park, and seven beautiful ‘Fantasists’ – half-human, half-android princesses – entertain visitors and make wishes come true. But this fairytale ends in murder, and now Ana, one of the seven Fantasists, is in the dock after finding herself experiencing emotions and romantic feelings against all her programming . . .

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this. Having completed it, I can say it was definitely one that got my attention and I’m grateful to NetGalley for allowing me access to this prior to publication. Ultimately, there were elements of the backstory and the world-building that didn’t quite answer all my questions.

Ana is a Fantasist. Essentially a machine, she is programmed to bring happiness to those she interacts with. She lives, along with her sisters, in the Disney-style theme park known as The Kingdom and she is programmed to behave within a strict set of parameters. Her focus is to provide happiness to the guests she interacts with, though she can’t feel emotions…or so we’re led to believe.

Early on, we are given details of a transcript of a trial. Through this we learn that Ana has been accused of the murder of a park worker. She maintains she didn’t do anything, and that she cannot lie.

I was fascinated by the concept, though I also found myself wanting to dig deeper into the park and its set-up. Frustrating, perhaps, but there was plenty here to get the reader’s attention.