The Bottle Stopper is the first book of The Paper Duchess series and follows the story of Maeve; a young woman who has grown up living on The Floor: the slums of the city of Falside.
Falside sits on the cliffside at the edge of the stinking Falwere River, and The Floor is the bottom terrace. People here live within the actual silt of the river itself, and the majority of their work, their supplies, and their sustenance comes from the water. While some of the houses are more established, boasting luxuries such as electricity, running water, and indoor bathrooms, many dwellings on The Floor are little more than makeshift shacks.
But it’s not all mud and smelly fish down here. The slums lie beyond the overbearing jurisdiction of the administration, and doesn’t suffer the rules, regulations and controls that the rest of Falside does. And in a city where women are owned by the administration, that’s a big bonus. In addition to that, the inability to conceive a girl is an affliction that the people of the slums seem to be immune to. Their women are many, and they are free.
So, if you’re happy to trade a simple existence, and a bit of hard graft for your freedom, for your right to choose who to marry or, indeed, if you marry at all, then the slums is the place you want to be.