A modern Marie Antonette story: Cake Eater


Anna Esper

A new YA story, “Cake Eater” gives a new perspective on Marie Antonette’s life.

Grace Johnson, Staff Writer

We all know the story of Marie Antonette. The infamous French monarch spent her kingdom’s money without a care for her people or her duty to continue her family line, and met her end, beheaded, with the French Revolution. Young Adult book Cake Eater by Allyson Dahlin retells this story in a not-so-distant future. This book manages to encompass numerous genres, including mystery, romance, dystopian, and science fiction. Within all of these genres, Dahlin delivers an unflinching theory about the future of humans and androids. Her imagined future is a nod to “history repeating itself.” 


In this story, Marie is a 17 year old princess from the kingdom of Austro (based on Austria) who is sent to marry a heir to the throne that she has never meant, Louis-Auguste, in Franc (based on France). Marie is a fashion loving social media star whom many underestimate. They assume she only cares about her online presence, when in fact she is a sharp, inquisitive girl who has no plans to sit back and let others run her life. Her duty is to provide Franc with an heir. Unfortunately for her, when her marriage to Louis remains unconsummated, the heat of her superiors falls on her. 


This novel is set in the year 3070, almost 150 years in the future. However, the book still feels eerily current due to the setting in the classical palace of Versallies, albeit with futuristic, often neon, updates. The prevalence of social media very similar to social media today also contributes to this. Androids are commonplace in this future world, firmly cementing this book in the science fiction and dystopian genres. In addition to android and neon, the fashions that many characters in the novel wear signal the futuristic setting. “Holo” and neon are often part of fashionable outfits of royals at court.


Cake Eater is approachable for many readers, due to the multiple genres that it stretches. It is a great example of a genre bending book. Romance readers will enjoy Marie and Louis’ romance; dystopian and science fiction readers will enjoy the setting and themes of the book; and mystery readers will appreciate the mystery that Marie and Louis unpack.


Readers might be surprised at the dystopian, often dark content of this novel based on its cover. The only hint to these themes on the cover of the book is Marie holding a phone, and the glitchy font of the title. Most of the cover is a detailed digital art interpretation of the character Marie, with nods to the real life historical Marie Antoinette. It is mostly in shades of pastel pink and blue. The cover does not give much of a signal to the content of the book, leading it to be a perfect example of  “don’t judge a book by its cover.”


Although this book is overall a very strong one, it is not without its faults. Marie comes off as whiny at some points in the book, and at other times, she adapts a holier-art-thou attitude. Marie is, overall, a realistic character, although at times readers may struggle to support her antics and choices. 


The romance between Marie and Louis is unlike many other YA romances. It is slow burning and heart aching. The romance is one of the main threads that ties the subplots of this book together. The ending of this book is a haunting tearjerker, readers beware.


Cake Eater encompasses multiple genres, including mystery, romance, dystopian, and science fiction, and executes plot points in each genre flawlessly. Many readers would enjoy this book due to its wide topics and genres. With minimal faults, Cake Eater by Allyson Dahlin is an excellent YA novel.