Book Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

I’m not sure what I expected from this book, but the fairytale tone, the budding romance, and a surprise plot twist were definitely worth reading, even if parts of the book frustrated me.

3.5/5 stars

Book one of the Remnant Chronicles

Genre: fantasy/fairytale-esque YA

cover the kiss of deception

Amazon description of The Kiss of Deception:

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.

I’m still a bit on-the-fence about this book. I like it, sure, but there were some parts of it that didn’t really work for me.

But the positive first:

The writing style really worked. The chapters told from the assassin’s and the prince’s points of view worked well with the story without breaking up the pace of the plot. Lia’s voice definitely came through in the writing.

The romance was great. Both love interests were good, though I definitely favored the prince. Not quite sure why, but I think his character’s conflicts were more interesting than the assassin’s, which felt semi-predictable.

The book’s messages about tradition were interesting. Lia runs away from the court that she hates because of the traditions that rule it, but finds the traditions of the quaint village she runs to charming. However, this juxtaposition could have been played up more to create more of a conflict with Lia’s idealistic character.

Which leads me into the negative:

I didn’t really like Lia. Honestly, she was annoying for large sections of the book. I’m sure she’s the kind of girl a lot of people love, but her lofty character that had deluded itself into notions of simplicity, combined with an idealistic view of poverty and a refusal to accept the realities of the real world did not work for me. She felt like a clueless princess–which, yeah, was the point, but it was still annoying, and I had hopes that she would get over herself by the end of the book, which didn’t really happen.

Pauline was annoying too. Genevieve was cool, especially when she drew attention to Lia’s (ignorant) idealism.

The prince had a good character but I felt that the conflicts that drew me to him (namely not being tested in battle) never really developed. The assassin, as I’ve already said, came off as the stereotypical indebted-to-and-loyal-to-a-bad-cause character, who even when *dramatic plot points ensued* didn’t really face his character conflicts.

Also, I felt like the threat of rape should have been a larger part of the book. Especially in the second half of the book, Lia is in situations that would have had heavy rape-implications, but Pearson only emphasized this a few times, and not to what I felt like an appropriate extent. I get that not every author wants to go hard-core rape culture in their books, but Pearson presented these scenes where Lia should have been flippin terrified for her safety, and she seemed just as impervious as usual.

I guess my main problem with this book is that it didn’t feel done. There were great character elements, but they didn’t pan out. The parts I loved about the story weren’t played up, the parts that annoyed me took center stage. Conflicts that I expected to heavily influence the plot faded away.

Still, this book is good. A quick read, despite its length (in hardcover it’s like two inches thick). I’d recommend it for people who enjoy fairytale-esque tales, budding romances, and don’t mind a few whiny characters.

*spoilers below*

There is one thing I must address, but this is only for the eyes of people who have read the book. If you haven’t, this review is basically over, hope you enjoyed it.

When Lia gets kidnapped by the assassin, I was surprised to find out that Kayen, not Rafe, was the assassin. I’d been reading the first half of the book assuming Kayen = prince and Rafe = assassin. Was I being an idiot or was this an intentional device the author employed? Simply the fact that I couldn’t tell definitely put me off the book. If you want a dramatic reveal, it should be clear that it’s dramatic.

Am I being an idiot? Was I supposed to “fall for it”? Did you guys fall for it?

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