The Kiss of Deception
by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles, #1
Released on: July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
Rating: 4 stars
Word Rating: confused shippiness
Reviewed by: Blythe
In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.
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.
The Kiss of Deception gets off to a somewhat shaky start, following what I've begun to consider the standard high fantasy formula: our main character finds herself on her wedding day, a marriage arranged to a prince whom she's never met, and decides to break free from her father's control and runs away. What follows is about fifty pages of typical high fantasy road trip fare, albeit excellently written, and for those fifty pages I found myself worried about how the other 450 pages of the novel would go for me. Those worries about originality--or lack thereof--were soon put to rest, as Pearson brings into play engaging twists and stories which her characters follow, and the characters themselves bring forth dynamic relationships and developments.
The main character, Lia, is just as fiery as one would expect given the fact that the novel starts off with her defying tradition and authority and fleeing from home to lead her own life. She's a ballsy character, and I loved how she didn't take shit from anyone. Not only that, but she makes some questionable decisions and overall is a really complex character morally. She's a good person, but she at times has to lie to those she loves to save them heartache, and some of this requires her to set aside her morals. I love that Pearson took that risk with Lia's character, because it absolutely paid off. Also, despite the at times blurred morals, Lia always remained a thoroughly likable, interesting, and badass character.
The other characters are also really well fleshed out, and their relationships with Lia were really well drawn. I like Pauline a lot, and her friendship with Lia was totally awesome and refreshing, and the other women in Lia's life were so great and supportive. The relationships in The Kiss of Deception are overall really healthy, realistic, and well-written, and that includes the romance. And let me tell you, that ship is a brilliant ship. Of it, however, I will say not much more, because spoilers, but it's really sweet and develops really well. And there is an amazing amazing amazing twist about it later on in the novel that had me screeching in the middle of the night. It is seriously so clever and amazing, and I kind of saw it coming and was crossing my fingers for it. What I will say about the romance though, with no skirting around the fact, is that I was afraid having read other reviews that there would be a love triangle in here, and so I was really glad to see that that was not the case. I could see how the love triangle could become a thing in future novels in the Remnant Chronicles, but please no, leave my ship in peace.
Pearson's prose is absolutely spellbinding, and her world and characters even more so. After the aforementioned brilliant twist, things got a little rough for me and hit a bit of a slump, but the novel soon fixed itself and things went back to its amazing precedents. I'm extremely excited to see where Pearson will take her characters and her world in the next book in the Remnant Chronicles, and the ending of The Kiss of Deception assures that I will be pining for it. Recommended for high fantasy readers and non-high fantasy readers alike, The Kiss of Deception is an original and daring read with fantastic characters and dynamic relationships, and I will be waiting for book two with bated breath.