March 2020
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© 2019 by Susann Cokal.  All rights reserved.


“Brazen, baroque, The Kingdom of Little Wounds plots coordinates of history, fever, and magic in such a way that each is occasionally disguised as the other. However, there's no disguising Susann Cokal's immediate rise to eminence as a pantocrator of new realms. I lived in her controversial kingdom for only a week, but I suspect and hope I shall never recover.” 

                                        --Gregory Maguire, author of                                                    Wicked and What-the-Dickens



“There are deep and shallow reading experiences; this is a deep reading experience. There is nothing like it, though the fossil record flashes all kinds of petticoat. (Sigrid Undset. Margaret Atwood.) Elegant, complex, and sharp as a needle.”

                                        --Blythe Woolston, winner of the                                               William Morris Prize and

                                           author of Black Helicopters 



“An epic, mercurial tale of astounding beauty, power, and madness.”

                                       —Gigi Amateau, author of            

                                           Claiming  Georgia Tate

Young women's bodies are the battlegrounds in a tale of palace intrigue set during the Scandinavian Renaissance.

The Kingdom

of Little Wounds



In tenebris lumen meum metue.





Silver medal, Printz Awards,

 American Library Association


"Rich, sumptuous."

     -- New York Times Book Review


"Mesmerizing." --Kirkus (starred)


"The book’s lyrical writing,      

    enthralling characters, and

     compelling plot will  

     give older readers lots to




"Its eloquence and scope are


          --Publishers Weekly   (starred; a Best Book of 2013)


"A gripping stroll through 550 pages ... distinct in thought and


         --School Library Journal

            (starred review)


#3 on the Boston Globe's list of best YAs of 2013



      --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review


"I loved the layered storytelling with few answers .... Favorite Book Read of 2013."

        --Elizabeth Burns, Cozy Up, SLJ



Scroll down for interviews, etc.

The royal Lunedie coat of arms, as displayed on Skyggehavn Palace.  The Latin motto means "In the Darkness, Fear My Light."

The Story

     The Kingdom of Little Wounds is set in a watery, witchy, mermaidy kingdom in Scandinavia, 1572. Young women's bodies are the batttlefields as three outcasts--a seamstress, a slave, and a mad queen--plot against patriarchal court politics in order to save themselves and the little princesses.  When adolescent marriages were arranged for political convenience and lords had complete control over the bodies of the women in their families and courts, what we (and many people at the time) consider abuse was institutionalized. 

      The novel came out with Candlewick Press in October 2013 and is recommended for both young adults and regular adults (given the subject matter, it should be no surprise that there are some intense scenes). The paperback includes some extra materials.


Here's the flap copy:

     On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches: brocade and satin and jewels, feasts of sugar fruit and sweet spiced wine. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s favors sets a devious plot in motion. Here in the palace at Skyggehavn, things are seldom as they seem — and when a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history, the fates of seamstress Ava Bingen and mute nursemaid Midi Sorte become irrevocably intertwined with that of mad Queen Isabel. As they navigate a tangled web of palace intrigue, power-lust, and deception, Ava and Midi must carve out their own survival any way they can.

My sweetheart, my aunt, and my high school bff have told me this is my best novel to date.  How's that for endorsements???

(If they're right, it's thanks to Liz.)

My editor, the fabulous Liz Bicknell, and I do some hand-modeling with the stacks of manuscripts for Kingdom at Candlewick Press.

I think this might be the most luscious cover I've ever seen.  Painted by a wonderful Finnish artist, Kirsi Salonen.

The Kingdom visits the house where I first learned to read and where I wrote my first stories.  I read at age four and longed passionately to be a person who wrote books.

BOOKLIST likes The Kingdom!


Skyggehavn, a fictional sixteenth-century kingdom, is a desperate place plagued by madness, disease, and mercury poisoning. Political intrigue, murder, and manipulation abound as Cokal wends the troubling tale of Ava, an aspiring royal seamstress, and Midi, a mute foreign nursemaid, who together orchestrate a daring gambit to ensure both the continued power of the reigning queen and the downfall of the cruel man who sadistically took advantage of them both. The author seamlessly interweaves crooked fairy tales throughout her dark story, which only serves to underscore the grim realities of the women who suffer terrible violence at the hands of brutal men. The vivid, graphic, and frankly upsetting depictions of sex and rape make this a difficult read—and reserve it for the most mature readers—though Cokal gives a powerful and poignant voice to both Ava and Midi, whose indignation simmers until they enact a gruesome form of revenge. Despite the challenging content, the book’s lyrical writing, enthralling characters, and compelling plot will give older readers lots to ponder.  — Sarah Hunter.

Sweet review by Gigi Amateau in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  She likes it!

See me with cats in the 

Richmond Times-Dispatch!  And with moving boxes!  And Meg Medina!

Wrote Colleen Curran:


"The book is a door-stopper with a gothic, inlaid cover and a reddish-purple edge stain. The author says she always wanted an edge stain, because 'it makes the reader feel like they’ve entered another world.'”





Four cats and I had just moved to a 1900 farmhouse south of the river when this article ran.  The brindle cat staring at the camera is Tove, named after my Danish grandmother.  My fairytale white cat in the background, little Isak Grimm, died shortly after this photo was taken.  He was the gentlest pet I've ever known.






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