Book Review: The Kiss of Deception

Posted March 7, 2015 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 1 Comment

Book Review: The Kiss of DeceptionKiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers on July 8th, 2014
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 492
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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four-stars

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

I can thank Kara and Bekka for the push to read this novel. When the subject came up, both of them would slightly fangirl, and I was feeling excluded. The book had interested me, but there were many others that I was placing in front of this novel on my TBR pile. So I can chalk this one up to peer pressure.

Kiss of Deception was a shock to my system, and it jump started my interest, when it was sitting in the middle of a lull back in December of last year. Going to January, this stellar novel propelled my interest for the new year, and my book high kept me going for a while.

This debut novel for Pearson’s new series captured everything I love about reading, stealing my breath and my heart all in one fell swoop.

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The world building was brilliant. The reader could step inside the novel and virtually live in the universe. The descriptions of the towns and the landscape really set the stage, preparing the reader for a long vacation in this wonderfully titled destination. The writing and the details, the emotions and the sights of the world vividly painted a rich, sweeping story.

Even with the crisp displays and details, there was some room for interpretation on the reader’s end: this novel really could read either as a dystopia fantasy or straight out fantasy. I actually enjoyed picking apart the context clues to determine where this one landed on the genre scale. I listed it as a fantasy, but I am strongly leaning towards dystopian.

On top of retellings, I am also a sucker for the entire prince(ss)/pauper switch trope.

Not only did this novel go into detail into the daily life, but I liked that the reality of lower class living was romanticized for the things it offered, while never veering away from harsher realities. It wasn’t a rosy picture of how living as a peasant was perfect, but it did celebrate the common man, such as festivities and the satisfaction of working for your keep.

Lia was a joy to venture with, and her connection to the other females in the novel added a charming theme of friendship and sisterhood to the novel’s various themes. I seriously cannot get enough female team building in novels, and this beauty really took the female-friendly cake in that department. The other supporting characters in the novel were fleshed out well, with diverse personalities, each backstory and mystery fortifying a very strong and well-paced novel. It isn’t all about the romance, and the storyline veered towards an a la Frozen approach. The relationship between the central females was wonderfully explored, and the side story of sticking to one another, through tick and thin, is wonderfully awesome to help build up a more female/female positive tone overall. If I can venture so far, I would say the pro-femme of some of the current novels really warms my heart.

The mythology explored in Kiss of Deception added a very nice touch, with the fable of the world tying each chapter together as the story progressed. Taking the time to properly construct the lore allowed the audience to understand the foundation of the culture. If nothing else, the novel is well worth the read, just to see how the author set up the bedrock, animating the bones and structure inside the book.

The only issue I noticed was my lack of connection to the two eligible bachelors. (I must stop and admit that I was completely fooled. Yes, I was shocked by the plot twist, and even though I felt foolish, I was happy to know that I can still get a surprise). Returning back to our two love interests, I just didn’t really warm up to the love interest the way I should have.

I found myself skimming over the romantic scenes. It just wasn’t working for me – both  male characters seemed to dampen the pacing and the spirit of the book. The characters were good, but they never seemed endearing.

Overall

Well worth the buzz, Kiss of Deception is addicting and truly magical. The bland obligatory romance bogged down an otherwise well paced and interesting novel. For those looking for a bit of Tolkien world building and modern YA character-centered reads, this one hits the mark. Even those not too keen on fantasy will enjoy the realism and vivid universe.

lyn

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