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  • Writer's pictureTheLittLibrarian

The King is Dead - Review

*I received a physical/digital copy from the Colored Pages Book Tour via Little, Brown. All reviews are my own.*

Alright, book babies, I stumbled across another book that almost flew under the radar because I heard absolutely nothing about it until I joined this book tour. The King is Dead by Benjamin Dean is a Young Adult Romantic Thriller based on a closeted black gay teenager succeeding Monarchy power from his recently passed father, the King. While transitioning into his new role, secrets start to spill to the media, and the boy king has to figure out how to find the source of the whispers while maintaining his position on the throne to public scrutiny.

"Heavy is the crown James has been born to wear, especially as the first Black heir to the British throne. But with his father’s recent passing, and with a new boyfriend to hide, James is woefully unprepared for the sudden shine of public scrutiny.
When his secrets come spilling forth across tabloid pages and the man he thought he loved has suddenly disappeared, James finds himself on the precipice of ruin. As every detail of his life becomes public knowledge, his sense of safety is shattered and the people he trusts the most become the likeliest suspects.
What dangers lurk behind the palace walls—and will the new king find out before it’s too late?"

There is so much we can unpack from this story. We can talk about being Black in a position of power. We can talk about being closeted in a position of power. We can talk about the troubles of the Monarchy and its expectancy to live their lives for the public. We can talk about kids growing up faster than they should to uphold a tradition. Either way, you spin it, this story is relatable to anyone who picks up this book. The people who have the same hue as me would relate tremendously.

Comparing The King is Dead to real-life Royal drama between Prince Harry and Dutchess Megan Markle vs. their family and Princess Diana’s demise and her impact on the culture hit the button on the nose. I find it interesting how strangers always felt the need to know/dictate a famous person’s life and how they should act. In this case, our main character, James, falls prey to this immediately, and being that he’s a freshly minted 17-year-old, he falls hard into the public eye. It’s slightly unfair with the pressure he’s going through while grieving for his father, especially with journalists painting their narrative of what’s happening with the Royals. Still, at the same time, I wish James had wised up sooner and kept his emotions in check. I’m no expert on how the Monarachys work, but even during ancient Egyptian times and others, future kings were taught and raised at a young age on how to rule when the time came. It’s like James didn’t pay attention to the lessons at all. All in all, James acted like a typical teenager sans social media.

But I’m getting bedsides myself; let’s talk about the story. The feature felt as if it was a one-act play. Yea, there were a few different sceneries in the story, and yes, I know most notable people stay in their castles; I was hoping for a more colorful depiction of James’s surroundings. The story felt stationary. At the beginning of the book, I was getting How to Catch a Queen (by Alyssa Cole) vibes due to the modern take on how sovereignty works, but after a while, I felt dreary ole London take over in its stead.

The book’s pacing was gradual until, I say, about 80% in. I feel as if James’s character slowly grew into the King he could be and started making more intelligent decisions. The story wasn’t necessarily mysterious or thriller until we reached that mark. Might I add that I figured out the “Whodunnit” midway through? If you’re the type of reader who gets turned off by figuring out the culprit early on, I suggest sticking around for the twisted reason why it was done. Talk about a skeleton in the closet!

Overall I rated this book 3-stars. It’s not a bad debut from Dean. The story didn’t totally turn out how I expected it, but I was still intrigued. A black teenager who is about to be the face of Royalty causing a tizzy throughout the lands? I’m here for it and rooting for you!

The King is Dead is available now!

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