In the middle of this world is Persephone, a 16-year-old slave. Strong-willed and defiant, yet slow to take steps to change her lot in life, Persephone’s few attempts to escape her owner’s farm have resulted in her being chained and beaten. When Azriel, a handsome young thief, appears in the barn one night, and the subsequent night at the front door dressed in finery and calling himself a lord, Persephone’s life is set on a new path. She is sold to him for a bag of coins, and the two set out on a journey that will eventually land her in the company of the corrupt and ruthless Regent Mordecai.
Darker in theme and more sexually suggestive than some young adult books in this vein, The Gypsy King skews to slightly older readers. Rather than just flirting on the edges of romance, Persephone and Azriel share a physical relationship. Though it is never consummated, there is much intimate contact, and a suggestion (only slightly veiled) of them sharing a bed. Meanwhile, Fergus includes fairly graphic descriptions of her villains’ heinous acts of slaughter, torture, and violence.
Nominee, The Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award, 2014
Nominee, Snow Willow Reader’s Choice Award, 2014
Nominee, McNally Robinson Book for Young People, 2014
Best Book, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, 2013