Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 10 to 14
- Grade: 5 to 9
Monster hunting isn't for the faint of heart -- the first in a brand-new middle-grade series by NYT bestselling author, Kelley Armstrong.
Twelve-year-old Rowan is destined to be Queen; her twin brother, Rhydd, to be Royal Monster Hunter. Rowan would give anything to switch places, but the oldest child is always next in line, even if she is only older by two minutes. She resigns herself to admiring her monster hunting aunt's glorious sword and joining her queen mother for boring diplomatic teas. But tragedy shatters the longstanding rule, and Rowan finds herself hunting the most dangerous monster of all: a gryphon.
Accompanied by a feisty baby jackalope and a giant wolf that barely tolerates her, Rowan sets off on a journey that will see her join other unlikely allies: a boy with monster-hunting ambitions of his own, and a girl hiding dangerous motives. It will take all of Rowan's skills, both physical and diplomatic, to keep this adventure on track. The future of her kingdom depends on it.
About the author
When librarians finally granted Kelley Armstrong an adult card, she made straight for the epic fantasy and horror shelves. She spent the rest of her childhood and teen years happily roaming fantastical and terrible worlds, and vowed that someday she'd write a story combining swords, sorcery, and the ravenous undead. That story began with the New York Times bestselling Sea of Shadows and continues with Empire of Night.
Armstrong's first works for teens were the New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies. She lives in rural Ontario with her husband, three children, and far too many pets.
- Nominated, Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Choice Award
- Nominated, Sakura Medal
- Nominated, Diamond Willow Award
- Winner, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards
- Nominated, Silver Birch Award for Fiction
Excerpt: A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying (by (author) Kelley Armstrong)
“I know you love unicorns, Rowan, but please stop staring at mine. You’re making him nervous.
”I do not love unicorns, as my aunt Jannah knows. Jerks. All of them. I’m not staring at Courtois. I’m staring him down. Unfortunately, she’s wrong about the third part, too. I can’t make him nervous, no matter how hard I try.
We’re in the castle courtyard, the high stone walls stealing the morning sun. Around us, the royal hunters prepare for their mission. A mission I should be joining. My twin brother, Rhydd, is and I belong at his side, keeping him safe.
As I scowl at Courtois, Rhydd’s hand thumps on my shoulder. “Give it up, Ro.”
“That beast stepped on my foot,” I say. “On purpose.”
“Yep, I’m sure he did. He is a unicorn.”
I move away from Courtois only to stumble over my aunt’s warg, Malric. The giant wolf lifts his head, upper lip curling to reveal canines as long as my hand. The last person who tried to pet him lost two fingers. Even I know better. I quickstep out of his reach.
“Making friends with all the monsters this morning, aren’t you?” Rhydd teases.
As I grumble, he leans in to whisper, “I know you’re upset. You’re worried about me going on the gryphon hunt.”
“I’m not wor—”
“You’re worried, and this is how you show it. By grumbling and scowling and staring down unicorns.”
“It’s not fair.”
“I know,” he says.
My scowl deepens, and I want to kick the dirt and growl and stomp. That would be childish, though, and I am not a child. I’m twelve. I’m a princess. One day, I’ll be queen.
I don’t want to be queen. I’ll be horrible at it. Rhydd should get the throne. Even now, as scared as he is, he’s trying to calm me. That’s what a real leader does.
“Rhydd?” Jannah calls. “Saddle up.”
As Jannah climbs onto Courtois, her sheathed sword swings by her side. I look at that sword, a gleaming ebony-wood center with a razor-sharp obsidian edge. I imagine it in my hands, and a lump rises in my throat.
This is who I want to be. This is who I should be. Not the queen, but the royal monster hunter. Everyone knows it. I hear the whispers, how my thoughtful brother should sit on the ivory throne, how his headstrong twin sister should wield the ebony sword.
One of the School Library Journal’s Best Middle Grade Books of 2019
One of the Ontario Library Association’s 2019 Top Ten Titles
PRAISE FOR A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying:
". . . [A] fast and fun read, a great read-a-like for Tamora Pierce’s 'Tortall' series." --STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal
"A fresh take on familiar fantasy creatures and situations." --STARRED REVIEW, Shelf Awareness
"A rousing romp for monster hunters and monster lovers alike." --Kirkus Reviews
"A gripping middle grade debut." --Publishers Weekly
“Armstrong’s characters challenge gender norms, and her writing attends to themes of social justice and animal welfare, relying on strong episodic tension to drive the narrative. Highly Recommended.” --CM Magazine
“A 100% engaging romp for fans of fantasy and feisty heroes!” --49th Shelf
Other titles by Kelley Armstrong
The Final Trial
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 4
A Rip Through Time
The Deepest of Secrets
A Rockton Novel
A Stranger in Town
A Rockton Novel
Shapers of Worlds Volume II
Science fiction and fantasy by authors featured on the Aurora Award-winning podcast The Worldshapers
The Serpent's Fury
Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Book 3
Alone in the Wild
A Rockton Thriller (City of the Lost 5)
Life Is Short and Then You Die
Mystery Writers of America Presents First Encounters with Murder