Welcome to the Kingdom … where Happily  forever is not just a promise, but a rule.

Shining like a jewel behind your front door, The Kingdom is an immense fantasy theme park in which guests soar in virtual dragons, castles cast as giant and bioengineering species, formerly extinct, roam freely.

Ana is one of the seven Fantasistas, beautiful «princesses» designed to make dreams come true. When she meets Owen Park employee, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming, including, for the first time … love.

But the fairy tale becomes a nightmare when they accuse Anne of murdering Owen, beginning the trial of the century. Through testimony in court, interviews and memories of Ana de Owen, a story of love, lies and cruelty, and what it really means to be human.

Fantastically attractive with thought-provoking themes

Westworld meets Disney World in this fantastic suspense / suspense movie NOW. THE KINGDOM follows Ana, one of the seven Fantasistas who are princesses in this interactive theme park. The Fantastists are human / Android hybrids that are programmed with certain abilities. In this case, the princesses are programmed to make people happy when they visit the park, like the princesses and Disney characters. The park has also created animals that are hybrids of real animals and / or that recreate extinct animals.

The book follows the past and present in a dispersed but easy to follow manner, and we know that someone was killed, and we follow the steps that lead to the trial, as well as the trial itself. Following the questions and the disappointment of Ana for the world in which she lives, a series of interesting topics are presented. For example, there are unclear lines between androids and humans and how it is defined that humanity is questioned at all times. There are also smaller issues about animal welfare in terms of how they are treated in the park and the need for performance and about the objectification of women and sexual harassment. Another minor issue is about commercialism and the use of beauty and race / ethnicity as a tool towards monetary gain.

What I loved: this book was a great page change and I read it in a session. The idea is wonderful, and the writing accomplishes it perfectly with a captivating mystery. The themes can provoke some really interesting discussions about morality at various levels (as mentioned above), and it is a pretty thoughtful book. Ana undergoes a great transformation throughout the book, and one of the things that I enjoyed the most was that education was not driven mainly by the male romantic protagonist, but by her own observations and those of her sisters.

In that vein, I was also intrigued by the other Fantasistas, some of whom are well trained as secondary characters (Nia, Eve and Kaia in particular) and who add a lot to the book. The characterizations are really well done, and they all came alive on the page. The construction of the world was also first class, and the Kingdom was easy to imagine according to the descriptions. I also liked that the romance was relatively light in this book and, for the most part, took a back seat to the other topics.

Other thoughts: this book was much darker than I expected, and I would like to add content warnings about sexual harassment, sexual assault (alluded to), danger to children (almost murder of a 4 year old child), suicide (attempt) and animal abuse.

Final verdict: this book, which offers interesting and stimulating themes, well-crafted characters and a detailed construction of the world, would be easy to recommend for people looking for fantasy / dark thrillers that will stop and continue to guess until the end. .