Empress & Aniya


Although Empress & Aniya seem to have only their school in common, the truth is it is less than that. While Aniya’s family is wealthy and comfortable and her mother is friends with the headmistress, Empress has had to enable her scholarship place alone. What’s more her home is not the sort of place you’d take anyone home to; it’s not even safe for her.

As Aniya’s friends seek to isolate Empress through seizing upon her poverty and difference, Aniya is different. What’s more, as she stands up to them and then judgmental teachers, she is keen to befriend Empress. It’s not long before the pair are doing homework together at Aniya’s home, and eating dinner too.

Yet upon their shared sixteenth birthday, things come to a head. The girls are fast friends, with Aniya joking they’re so close as to be near twins, that maybe they should fool about with a spell to see through the other’s eyes. However, they don’t expect the spell to work. What’s more, they don’t expect that it will lead to Aniya experiencing Empress’s world for real, a world that is dangerous and in need of real help. Is Aniya the one to call this out? Then again, what does it mean for Empress? Finally, how will this trading places be resolved?

There are serious social issues and considerations of society and opportunity in Candice Carty-Williams’ first book for YA readers. While it is a gentle, pink covered novella of friendship, Empress & Aniya offers contemporary, meaningful, hard-hitting themes that make us think, feel and (maybe) act.

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Empress & Aniya

Candice Carty- Williams

(Knights Of Media)

Empress & Aniya don’t seem as though they’d be a friendship fit. After all, Empress’s intention upon winning a scholarship to Chancellor School for Girls, is to improve herself and her situation. However, Aniya’s friendliness is disarming. What’s more, when she realises Empress’s hunger, she’s keen to do something about it.
Thereafter the girls go to Aniya’s home after school to work through homework together and eat. It seems natural that a friendship should build, especially after Aniya’s discovery that the pair share the same birthday. Despite their closeness and Aniya’s parents’ willingness to accept their daughter’s friend into their comfortable fold, Empress’s reluctance to share her home and circumstances, is a given. However, it takes their sixteenth birthday spell for that understanding to disintegrate, when the girls change places…
What might being in Empress’s skin do for Aniya’s understanding of her friend? Thereafter what might it do for her circumstances? As we consider the ethics and fall out of social improvement for those from deprived circumstances, as in Piecing Me Together, we realise Empress’s experience. What’s more, we wonder about her mother and societal issues… These are big questions:- Big Issue: The state of child poverty in the UK.
Empress & Aniya is a small, pink novella that packs a mighty punch. Bookwagon recommends this book to our mature, older readers.


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