Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception

Author: Mary E. Pearson
Release: July 8th 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, YA
#1 in the Remnant Chronicles
Sequels: The Heart of Betrayal (#2), The Beauty of Darkness (#3)


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.


This is one of those books that is making my life harder than it has to be, because the first half was terrible, while the second one was great. I just hate those books that tear you apart like that.

One quick thing before I jump into the review: There is one character, a character named Dihara and there was not a single time where I didn't misread her name as diarrhea. What an unfortunate name to have.

Anyways, this was one of the non-sequel books among many that I was really looking forward to this year and had already pre-ordered a long time prior to its release. I had high hopes and I honestly went into this with a determination to love this. I was prepared to get attached to the characters and have a new trilogy to look forward to. However, during the first half, these hopes got squashed more and more the farther I got into it, until I reached a point of bleak hopelessness and desperation, for a second questioning whether I'll ever find another book I'll truly love ever again, it was that awful. 

You see, the exposition is about thirty pages long, and as a result, fell much too short, while the rest of "part 1" simply stretched way too thin. It would have been better if Pearson had lengthened the exposition and cut a bit of the Terravin stupidity, but oh well. Because absolutely nothing happened on the first stop of Princess Arabella's journey, the events of Terravin have absolutely no relevance to the later plot except for the introduction of the two love interests and the build-up for the respective romances. Needless to say, the whole stay was littered with sappy scenes that made me roll my eyes, cringe, and bite my lip more times than I care to admit. 

But. But then came the second half of the novel that was truly mind-blowing. First up, there was that one plot twist that really upended my  view of the whole book. It was something I never would have expected and quite frankly, actually have never ever encountered in a book before. It made me question myself and go back frantically, checking if I was just an idiot or if Pearson really just did something spectacularly clever. I'm still not entirely convinced I didn't just miss something huge because I'm a dumbass, but if I didn't and the author really just cleverly planted such a huge plot twist, I just ... to say I was shocked would be an understatement. 

Following that, there was also — finally! — a whole lot more of the world-building I sorely missed the previous half and was starting to give up on. We not only get to know more about the world, but we also get to travel it! Exciting, exciting. It's also not an info dump, but we get to know little tidbits as we go along, some of it from songs, some from stories and others from a tribe of nomads that the characters cross on their trek across the country. Which also explored all the different cultures and norms of the different countries that inhabit the land, making this world Pearson has conjured up even more awesome. The cherry on top of the cake is that there's also magic involved. There's still more to learn about that I'm sure, but seriously — I loved this world. Fantasy at its ... well, not best, but at its very good.

And then there's the characters. I'll just straight up say it without any preamble, but the main protagonist, Lia, was really freaking unrealistic. As such, it was extremely hard for me to relate to her and get attached to her, despite my resolution to love her. She's still too good of a person, and she was right from the start — she's a royal but she treats her maid and every other person of lower class with respect and kindness, she works hard without complaint after escaping the palace and doesn't utter a single word about it, she doesn't care about what she's wearing and she'd rather practice knife throwing than embroidery. That's all fine and dandy, only I'm not buying that for a second. I have kinda warmed up to her towards the end, but not because she has developed a particular darker side or anything, which at this point I'd rather see; but because she's been through so much fuckery during the plot that I've had no other choice but sympathize and pity her a little. Can Lia just get a little darker or something, please? I see signs of it, and considering everything she's just witnessed, it'd be pretty darn unbelievable if she stayed the same perky girl as before, so I'm hoping this issue of mine will get resolved in the sequel; otherwise, I'm calling shenanigans.

The love interests were alright, none of them super abusive or controlling, thank God for something at least. However, I did dig one of the romances (the one that actually seems to be endgame, at least for now??!?! HOW CAN THAT BE? Me liking the canon couple?!), so I guess in some way, one of the males had to have made some kind of impression. Both of them could be annoying at times though, with their cheesy blabber about their feelings for Lia, because yes, there were chapters from their POVs as well, little 2 to 3 pagers, which I personally didn't mind, but at the same time I don't think would have been particularly necessary. At least during the first half. 

In the end, having closed the final page and the cliffhanger it brings, I am really looking forward to the sequel, but I also have to admit that I am a teeny tiny little bit disappointed. I simply expected more, and even while I practically forced myself to love this, I couldn't overlook its many flaws. Which I totally blame the author for, because if it hadn't been for the boring first 250 pages, I so would have ended up loving it. Well, maybe next time's gonna be it, I for one have even higher expectations for the sequel now.


  1. "This is one of those books that is making my life harder than it has to be, because the first half was terrible, while the second one was great."

    Well said. I know those books and I never know if I should hate or love them. I'm actually reading such a book - the first 200 pages were just boring, and now it's all great - so I understand. Nonetheless, your review is great and the book sounds interesting, but I'm not sure if I will read it. Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. I've read the book and I know who is who among the 2 boys but i can't quite figure out the plot twist.
    Can anyone please tell me?