The Kiss of Deception – Book review

The Kiss of Deception

 

 

 

 

The Kiss of Deception Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

cover-kiss-of-deception-200x300The Kiss of Deception
by Mary E. Pearson

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Published by: Macmillan on July 8, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 496

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.

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While I hesitate to make comparisons, THE KISS OF DECEPTION, the first installment in a new, complex high fantasy series by Mary E. Pearson, will certainly appeal to fans of Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass) and Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone). This is high fantasy at its best, folks.

What will essentially draw in readers when it comes to THE KISS OF DECEPTION is not only the sweeping world or the spine-tingling romance, but also the intelligent way in which the story is told. While some things may (or may not) be obvious to us, the readers, THE KISS OF DECEPTION is told in a manner that feels almost like an adventure/mystery. On the surface the plot is fairly simple: Princess Lia (is anyone else thinking of Star Wars right now? Princess LiaLeia? No? Alrighty then…) wants to escape an arranged marriage, so she sets out with her best friend and hand maiden to live in a distant city as a peasant. But so much more is involved in this rash decision that she makes: Who is the assassin determined to kill Lia? – and who sent him? What exactly is this “power” that she supposedly does not possess? What are the repercussions to the kingdom as a result of her breaking off the marriage? How on earth is she going to be able to continue a “normal” lifestyle with so many important people out to find her? Which man will she choose in the end? All of these questions are presented in a story that is told from the multiple perspectives of Lia, the jilted prince, the assassin, Kaden and Rafe. Sounds complex, doesn’t it? But ahhh… It is and it isn’t. 😉

I had a few things figured out fairly early on – or perhaps my hopes had them figured out. In the end, I was very pleased to find that my hopes were correct. That is to say: there is a “love triangle” between Lia, Kaden and Rafe… But yet… there also isn’t. Lia’s intentions are clear from the start, but what you don’t understand is that you never really know who exactly Kaden and Rafe really are… not until the very end of the book, that is. (Ah, there’s that mystery I was telling you about.) 😉

OK. Here’s the part where I need be honest and upfront: DON’T make the same mistake I did.  I always advise people to NEVER peak at the end of the books they are reading. But the mystery in this one was so baffling and my hopes were so very high that… I peaked. AHHHHHH!!! Yes, I PEAKED!!! And yes, I was spoiled!!! But I was also happy, so I guess there’s that… And I probably would have figured things out along the way… But ahhhh!!

I really, really, REALLY advise you guys:
DO NOT PEAK AT THE END OF THE KISS OF DECEPTION!

 

You have got it all in THE KISS OF DECEPTION. Epic journeys, adventure, thrilling chases, assassins, romance, gypsies, adventure, evil doers, magic, disgusting men, innkeepers and royalty… oh, and did I say adventure? There’s something here for everyone. So if you’re a guy and you’re turned off by the cover, I advise you to look beyond the girl in the white dress. See there? See those two men, one of them looking mighty creepy in his assassin getup? Yup, there is also plenty of that.

 

This is not just a kissing book, I assure you!

Pros:

  • The characters and the world are complex. More importantly, you will want to learn more about them. You’ll actually enjoy the company of each character who has their own point-of-view. You’ll find yourself rooting for the supposed “bad guys”.
  • Epic journey! Across lands that are actually interesting!
  • Along the way there are gypsies!
  • The writing is gorgeous – and, at times, even humorous.

“A six-inch blade. I smiled. Did he buy it? It was actually just shy of four—but very nicely weighted—and as Aunt Bernice noted, a little exaggeration was always expected when describing weapons, victories, and body parts.”
― Mary E. Pearson, The Kiss of Deception

Cons:

  • The second quarter of the book drags a bit as Lia lives a “normal” life and gets to know Kaden and Rafe. But the forward momentum of the story line is still there.
  • …This is more than made up for when the epic journey I mentioned before begins.

A highly original story makes THE KISS OF DECEPTION a welcome addition to my high fantasy collection. The heart-shattering conclusion promises plenty of adventure (and magic!) in store for the sequel!

Plot: 9
Characters: 10
Setting: 10
Pacing: 8
Style: 10

Grade: 97

 

Defining Evil and Finding it in The Kiss of Deception

Everyone’s definition of evil is going to vary, but for me there is bad, wrong, awful, nasty, horrible, and then there’s EVIL.  It’s in a class of its own.

Evil is the blackest of the black. Empty, void, voracious, unredeemable. When it comes to people, I think there are very few who are purely evil. Like a star that’s collapses in on itself and becomes a black hole, they only suck in light with a deadly force, but emit none.  For them there is no redemption, there is no going back.

I think we come across very few purely evil people in life, but we do encounter a whole lot of the bad ones—and even that can all be a matter of viewpoint. If you’re a long term reader of mine you know that I tend to explore gray areas in my stories.  The really good and the really evil are easy to identify, but that whole in between realm, the gray area, is murky and harder to navigate—and infinitely the most fascinating to explore.

In The Kiss of Deception we get to experience a story from three viewpoints, Lia’s, Kaden’s, and Rafe’s. We might be in one character’s cheering section in one chapter, but then in the next we get to see things from another point-of-view. We get to see the inner workings of why each has made the choices they have.  It is a privileged point of view the other characters can’t see. Suddenly our judgments aren’t as clear as they once were.

In particular, from the outside, we get to see a princess who shirks her duty, a prince who couldn’t be bothered to answer a simple note, and an assassin who hunts down his victims and never fails in his duty.  But then we get the inside scoop—we get see the world through their eyes and understand their motivations and what brought them to this point as we step into their lives.

With the three main characters and many secondary characters, there is the very good, the very bad, and a whole lot of gray territory, but there is evil too. Pure evil. The greedy voracious kind that is never sated, and we get an underlying sense that this evil is lurking, waiting, building, coming.  Hungry. Because sometimes those black unredeemable holes do exist.

Thanks so much for letting me stop by, Jenna!