The barony of Cant is a tiny place, not often found on maps. (It's often printed on them, it's just not often found. It's that small.) Its residents live a simple existence, and tend to distrust anything from outside their tiny, moutain-cloistered kingdom. (They consider such places the "outlands"—so anything from them is definitely "outlandish.") It is presided over by a noble Baron named Adolphus. Adolphus has a daughter, named Pauline, who has a maidservant, named Lucy. And that is where the story begins.
Lucy and Pauline are going about their business at the castle one day, planning a prank that will launch underwear into the castle walls, but, in the process, they accidentally put a halt to an execution. They wouldn't think much about it, until an accident leads to them being mistaken for friends of the prisoner. Lucy, who takes the blame for all of Pauline's schemes, is roped into being a spy for the Cause, a secret rebel sect within Cant. But that's only the beginning of the trouble, as Lucy finds herself dragged into a web of intrigue that involves trade wars, a succession crisis, printing manifestos, and the horrible truth of what really happened to Lucy's parents.
Everyone has some different design for Lucy, be it as a spy or a servant. But Lucy just wants to keep her mistress Pauline safe. What will become of the two girls, when they learn the truth of Castle Cant?
This piece of Children's Literature was written by K. P. Bath.
This book contains examples of:
- Based on a Great Big Lie: The author's note swears up and down Cant is a real place, and takes great offense at the idea that he's making it up.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The book ends with Lucy and Pauline on the road, heading towards Pauline's grandfather's house. Their future is uncertain, but they don't mind, because they've just realized they're sisters, and that makes them happy.
- Bland-Name Product: The Gizmobots, which Lucy has a T-shirt of, are a takeoff of the Transformers. One of them is even named Cybertron.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Lucy was orphaned when she was very young. Not long after, the castle needed a maidservant to look after the young Pauline, and there was an orphan girl about her age, ready to serve! All part of a plot cooked up by Orloff to keep Lucy under watch.
- Death by Childbirth: Lucy's biological mother.
- Evil Chancellor: Orloff. Not surprisingly, he cheated his way to the position.
- Extra Digits: Lucy has six toes on both feet, which indicates her royal ancestry.
- Fauxreigner: Lu Mingshu the printer was born in Cant, but he associated more with Chinese culture, so he decided to become Chinese.
- Heroic Bastard: Lucy is Baron Adolphus' first, illegitimate, child. This makes Pauline her half-sister.
- Insistent Terminology: The author's note swears he is not a novelist, or a fabulist, or anything of the sort.
- Kid Hero: Lucy, on the grounds of no one would expect a little girl of spying.
- May Contain Evil: The gum given to the Baron and his closest companions was drugged.
- Rags to Royalty: Lucy is really the Baron's first child.
- Regent for Life: What Orloff wants to become.
- Ruritania: Cant. The author's note Hand Waves this by claiming that Cant is surrounded by high mountains that make it difficult to enter or leave, and that the people of Cant are very distrustful of outsiders and their customs.
- Shown Their Work: The information on heraldry and coats of arms in the book. There's even a small segment at the bat, explaining some heraldry terms and how to interpret the heraldic descriptions.
- Succession Crisis: Those of the Cause challenge Pauline's right to the barony, and within the castle itself, there's debate over who will become the regent if the Baron suffers an untimely death.
- The Talk: The Baron gives a remarkably frank one on his deathbead, to Lucy and Pauline, to explain why Lucy is his true eldest daughter.
- Writers Suck: "They accused me of trying to perpetrate a hoax, or worse, writing a novel."
- You're Not My Father: On his deathbead, the Baron asks Lucy to give him a parting kiss, as her father. She refuses at first, but thinking about it later, she deeply regrets it.