Title: The Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Arranged marriages suck.
People manipulate an institution that’s supposed to be founded on love to become a political contract. In the era of kings and queens, arranged marriages were the prominent rule of thumb and the main character of The Kiss of Deception was on her way to being wed into one. Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan (say that three times fast) isn’t so quick to follow tradition. She doesn’t say her holy remembrances every night, she practices knife-fighting and she definitely doesn’t want to be wed to a faraway Prince whom she hasn’t even seen before. To curb this tradition all together and to live a life by her own standards, Lia, as she prefers to be called, runs away with her friend Pauline to a town called Terravin where they lead new lives working in a tavern. The Prince of Dalbreck she ran away from runs after her as well as an assassin from Venda sent to kill her.
Not gonna lie, it took a some time for me to get into this story because I had to get used to the writing style. There isn’t a lot of dialogue and the tone of voice is very passive all making for a rather slow start. However, once she arrived at Terravin and the meat of the plot really took off, so did the pace of the novel. I appreciated the tactic of multiple POVs from The Prince and The Assassin as well as Kaden and Rafe once we knew their names because it provided a puzzle for readers as they attempted to piece each character with their role. But honestly, once we actually found out who was who I was terribly confused. There were some things that both Kaden and Rafe would say that would make sense in the lives of both the prince and the assassin and that kept the mystery going however, there were some things that Rafe said that didn’t quite fit the mold of the character he was supposed to play. There were other instances as well for example when they were all singing the holy remembrances in the tavern and one character knew them but the other didn’t and with his identity, it doesn’t really make sense why he wouldn’t know the holy remembrances. With a mystery like this, when readers finally figure it out, everything is just supposed to gel into place but basically, I felt like I had to read the whole book over again. I feel like that aspect could have been orchestrated better.
Nevertheless, I have to say reading through this novel, I had a strong feeling that Mary E. Pearson really mastered this world she created. All the characters were flushed out with their own unique personalities and hints to complicated lives separate to the plot that didn’t just feel like plot lines added for effect but rather actual story lines that Mary could develop further because she knew them so well. The texts distributed throughout from the books like the Song of Venda, the Morrighan Holy Text and such aren’t just like poems or fairytales but they’re complex. They were also awfully mind-twisting, if I am to be honest and after a while I stopped trying to understand the excerpts from Gaudrel. Like who is Ana and is there a narrator or are there three people talking together? I don’t know. With regards to the fantastical elements, I really like the kind of magic or “gift” that people have. It’s not the typical wave of a wand or murmur of a spell but it’s an ancient “knowing” which I think is really cool. Lia just knows stuff. It’s like a subtle magic that can somehow still prove to be very powerful.
Obviously, Lia has to fall for either Rafe or Kaden and much to my dismay, she chose Rafe. Now I wasn’t Team Kaden from the get-go because neither he nor Rafe are incredibly lovable from the beginning. They didn’t have any unique charms, they were just kind of regular. When Lia and Rafe got together I was like “eh whatever I couldn’t care less who she ends up with” but it was only towards the end of the novel that my love for Kaden grew. We got to see more sides of him, sides that held a questionable past that got me even more intrigued in his character. And his obvious love for Lia made me start shipping them so hopefully in the Heart of Betrayal, we get more Kaden and Lia, Kadia ❤ .
If you desire a fantasy novel with perfect world-building and lots of mystery then check out The Kiss of Deception. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought.
Until later xx