Well it’s apt that I happened to be reading The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze (really?) this week (I wrote this last week when the royals were here, but never got it posted) when Prince William and Princess Kate are in town, particularly when Kate was even referenced in the book about what happens to the royal family after the apocalyptic Seventeen Days. The timeliness of events probably made me enjoy the book a little more than I would have otherwise.
When I was a little girl I fell for the whole Princess Di (who was also mentioned in the book) fairytale. Yet, as we all learned her life wasn’t exactly the fairytale it seemed. So an apocalyptic book about a princess who is her descendant seems almost fitting, and definitely a novel idea in this genre, though if the world fell apart would there still be any royalty?
Princess Eliza was living the life of a young royal prior to the Seventeen Days. The Seventeen Days refers to the perfect storm of apocalyptic events when several natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes all happened within that short period. The Royal Family and their household staff took cover in a bunker and they emerged to reign over a very different world. As the result of so many cataclysmic events modern technology is gone, there are food shortages, and like any good apocalyptic yarn there are humans who act inhumane, in this story they are called Roamers. The Roamers are hardened prisoners who escape their cells during the disasters and ‘roam’ the woods capturing unfortunate souls whom they then eat.
Even before things reach such dire straits, Eliza is not immune from tragedy. One day a man drops off a basket of rare fruit for the royals and Eliza and her pregnant mom decide to celebrate with a picnic. However, when the Queen bites into the fruit it turns out to be poisoned and she dies. Eliza’s father becomes withdrawn, her older sister Mary cannot replace her mother, and Eliza’s little brother James is an invalid. James was the baby her mother was carrying when she dies, although he was saved, he has been sickly all his life. The young royals have spent the summer in Balmoral until summoned to London for their father for the Roses Ball.
Yes it seem incongruous that there would still be things like balls happening, let alone a royal family existing, even if the ball is not the luxury event it once was. The misguided King thinks it’s important to keep up traditions even during dark times, but fiddling while Rome burns is not an expression for nothing. The man who killed the Queen has risen to become the head of a movement called The New Guard and under the circumstances he could easily have received the sympathy of readers who might think having a royal family with servants when so many people are starving is tacky at best, but this man, Hollister, doesn’t really stand for equity and fairness, he just wants power and to take over and be King himself. That, plus the fact that he’s simply sadistic, means that readers will side with the royals. Particularly, when the family is attacked, and it’s Eliza who escapes and quickly sheds her privileged background to go on a mission to kill Cornelius Hollister. To carry out her plan she experiences hunger and violence eventually joining the very movement she has vowed to bring down by disguising herself. Unfortunately she has caught the attention of two captains of the New Guard, one who enjoys abusing her, the other seems to want to help her, but can she trust him?
The book veers away from its apocalyptic origins into William Wallace territory for its remaining two-thirds. I would have preferred a bigger portion of the book devoted to the apocalyptic aspects as I always think that the most interesting part of this genre is how people adapt from their normal lives to dramatically changed circumstances, in this case it would be even more of a transition since the main character is a royal.