The first in a duology, How Rory Thorne Broke the Universe starts out with a hard fairy tale line: the new princess is born to the Thorne family line, and fairies come to bestow gifts on her. One fairy is pretty teed off that her invitation… got lost in the mail, let’s say, but there’s no spindle and no curse here. She bestows a dubious gift on the princess; the gift to see through lies of flattery and kiss-uppance. Rory is the first female baby to be born to the Thorne line for a while, so her birth throws things into a bit of a tizzy; it’s a tizzy that’s even more stirred up when a terrorist attack kills her father and the king of a neighboring planetary federation. Her mother gives birth to a male Thorne heir around the same time, which gives us an antagonist to watch out for in the next book.
Rory’s betrothed to the prince of the neighboring federation, and sent to live there while she waits to turn 18 and become his wife. Meanwhile, the Regent – not her betrothed’s mother, since she also managed to get killed off – is a sleazy minister with his own power game at play. Rory, her body-maid (a badass half-cyborg named Grytt), her Vizier, Rupert, and two guards under Grytt, Thorsdottir and Zhang, keep an eye on things, because the Regent is up to no good. When the Vizier is arrested after trying to poke around and find out the Regent’s deal, Rory takes over and discovers a plot that will have major consequences for Rory, her family, and their corner of the universe. She enters her own Game of Thrones to outwit, outplay, and outlast the Regent.
Rory Thorne is a great character. She’s a smart, savvy teen princess who is ready to defend herself and throw down with anyone who gets in her way. But the book falls a little flat for me. There’s a great deal of worldbuilding, but tends to drone on at points and left me putting down the book to find something else to pique my interest between chapters. Is it YA? It’s definitely YA crossover material. Nothing too violent or overt for teen audiences, but it may not hold your usual readers’ attention. Talk this up with your space opera readers.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse has a starred review from Kirkus.