Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Basics:
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Henry Holt and Co.
Book One in the Remnant Chronicles
YA, Fantasy, Romance
Published July 8, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon.ca Kobo.com

Why I picked up this book:

I loved stories of women who want to break out of the decisions other people have made or them. Plus, you know, fantasy elements and a gorgeous cover.

Book Blurb:

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

My thoughts:

Oh my goodness. 

I thought this book was going to be a kind of generic princess trying to escape her duties, an obvious love triangle with an outcome most people would root for and maybe some magic sprinkled in for flavour.

That would be a very unkind description of this book. Which amuses me because so much of it is about not pre-judging.  

This is a nuanced epic fantasy-romance that sprawls across city, village and the wilderness. There's everything from festivals and rituals, religion and politics, war and a lot of travel - this is a HUGE story told in a way that's very intimate. 

So, for starters, I loved that we get different perspectives. Most chapters are from Lia's viewpoint, but we hear from Rafe - the jilted prince, and Kaden - the mysterious assassin, as well as Pauline - Lia's maid and best friend. Being able to see the story from their perspectives really opened up the emotional weight of a lot of the story, for me. Obviously it makes it easier to understand everyone's actions, but also it provides texture as Lia, Rafe and Kaden all come from different kingdoms with their own customs and cultural perspectives. This important difference adds significance to their actions and thoughts that allowed me to really sympathize with everyone.

The Kiss of Deception does have a love triangle of sorts. Kaden and Rafe both appear in Lia's life at the same time, both handsome, mysterious men. Without spoiling anything (though I would love love love to discuss this in depth!), I loved them both. Everyone is caught between a rock and a hard place - the theme of hard decisions permeates this book. 

Lia is a wonderfully complex character. As a princess, she's sheltered and thus naive when it comes to some of the harder truths. She's shown to be compassionate and intelligent, but she's never been encouraged to think (or know) about the broader complications of her life. It's easy to empathize with her decision to flee in the face of an arranged marriage, and easier still to empathize with her growing dismay as the ramifications of that decision become apparent. Though we might hypothesize that the alliance between her people and her intended's is an important one, the reader is as in the dark as Lia about the wider world and what might happen until... it does.

Lia's strength of will is incredible, and when something threatens her loved ones, she flies to their defense with a take-no-prisoners attitude, heedless of the consequences. She's not perfect - she takes offense perhaps more easily than she should, and she definitely lacks subtlety. Watching her grow across the story is a lot of fun - and heartbreaking as well. 

I don't want to spoil anything so I'm going to steer clear of discussing the plot much. I do want to emphasize that this is a story that stretches beyond the YA love triangle model and embraces epic fantasy. Lia's definitely a heroine on a quest, leaving her home to grow-up in the wider, wilder world. There's a connection between her personal story and the broader story of the world, and I cannot wait to read about what additional impact Lia has on that in future books.

There's a touch of magic in 'the gift' - a precognition type ability. There's talk of dragons, but also some references to Ancients with more technologically based skills. Possibly the hint that this is a future Earth? Maybe? Am I reading into these references too much/not enough?  Regardless, the setting itself is heavily medieval, and vast as the story travels across kingdom boundaries.

Finally, this story made me cry, made me cheer, made me laugh. There's a lot of great moments, and I will certainly come back to this one for a re-read before the sequel is released (I hope next year!)

Bottom line:

Read this, please. I loved it, and I want the sequel and all the books to follow from there on. 

I gave up sleep for this one, I cried, I grinned, I cursed when I reached the last page and knew I'd have to wait a year for more. This one is so very, very good. 

5 stars
For fans of epic fantasy, romance, love triangles, assassins, princess, princes, mysticism, YA

No comments:

Post a Comment