On the eve of doomed Princess Sophia's nuptials to a man more than twice her age, royal seamstress Ava Bingen accidentally pricks Queen Isabel with a needle during a routine gown repair. Servants have been put to death for far lesser crimes, so when she is exiled to the dungeons, Ava doesn't believe she will live to see the dawn. Ava is unexpectedly rescued (fortunately or unfortunately? you be the judge) by Count Nicolas, a frivolous and devious man infamous for hiding his jewels in the oddest of places. The Count offers Ava a proposition: In lieu of death, she will be sent into the royal nursery as a spy in hopes that she will uncover a plot against the crown. It is here she meets the angsty mute nurse Midi Sorte. At first the girls are suspicious of each other, but soon they form an odd alliance. They do solve the mystery of who is plotting against the royal family. And, in doing so, also forge better lives for themselves.
The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susan Cokal is one of this year's Printz Award contenders. The story is awesome and beautifully written, and it's easy to see how it came to be an award winner. However, a warning: There are some seriously gross plot elements, such as detailed discriptions of disease (festering puss and all), multiple accounts of Count Nicolas' "odd" habits (eww!), and the humiliating deeds Ava and Midi are forced to perform for the pleasure and entertainment of the court. So if you have a weak stomach, maybe this one isn't for you. Otherwise, definitely check it out. This one's fantastic!
p.s. Due to mature content, this book is recommend for 9th grade and up.