Random House, 2016 384 pgs.
Danica is a privileged teenage girl living in the Versailles of the near future. A big corporation has bailed France out of financial ruin and in exchange now owns the palace of Versailles. The corporation has reverted the palace back to the court of Louie the sixteenth with all of its excesses and intrigues. The CEO is the king and rules with absolute power and various lucky shareholders now hold positions within the aristocracy. Through a cunning move of her mother's, Danica is currently engaged to the king, who is a ruthless and horrible person capable of extreme violence, especially with his women. In order to escape the marriage Danica leaves the palace and connects with a kingpin of the underworld in Paris. In order to raise the exorbitant sum required to secure her permanent escape Danica resorts to selling a new kind of drug. "Glitter" is highly addictive and potentially dangerous. She puts small amounts into cosmetics and begins to peddle it to her friendemies at the court, starting a trend. Before long, most of the court is addicted to the drug and business is booming. Only, it is catching on a little too well. Danica tries to keep her best friends away, but they discover glitter with disastrous results. Danica is making money hand over fist and a handsome and mysterious helper is sent to the palace, masked as a servant, to aid her in mixing and distribution. Danica begins to develop feelings for her new partner, which further complicates her situation. Will she raise enough money to escape marriage? Will the king figure out her scheme? These questions are answered, although a cliff-hanging ending will keep readers guessing as they wait for the second installment in the series.
Just when you think there is nothing new under the sun, someone writes an original story. This is such a book. I labeled it as science fiction only because it is set in the future and utilizes technologies not yet invented, but this is a loose genre description. It is set in the near-future and is a cautionary tale about the power of big business, but is not really dystopian. I love that the book is set in the court of King Louie the Sixteenth, but it is not historical fiction. Robots take the place of servants and cutting-edge communication technology is in use by all of the court. This book is long, but I didn't mind. I loved the original workings of this world and immediately fell into Danica's story. Danica is a survivor and is not afraid to do whatever it takes to save herself, even if it means hurting those around her. Because of the lack of control she has over her own life, she has an eating disorder of the eighteenth century variety. Whenever her life feels out of control, she tightens her corset and finds comfort in the pain this provides. The plot moves along nicely with both good, yet mostly evil, characters interacting with our hero and trying to elevate their own stations. Both of Danica's parents are of no help to her and she must make her own way in the world. She has friends, but the reader is unsure whether they can be trusted, as is Danica herself. Plots twists abound and back stories of the some of the characters offer surprises. Be warned: there are some deaths and Pike is not afraid to kill off key characters. It was interesting that the main character becomes a souped-up drug dealer and the ways and means in which she pulls off her business are pretty cool. Usually I get mad when I realize that all of my questions won't be answered and I have to read the sequel. In this case, I thought the ending was cool, provided a satisfying twist at the end, and, frankly, I didn't want to close the book on Danica's story anyway. Very entertaining, highly original, and almost as addicting as the drug our hero peddles.