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

Title: The Kiss of Deception
Series: The Remnant Chronicles
Author: Mary E. Pearson
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Genre Type: Fantasy & Magic
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Pages:  496
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co.

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 by Mary E. Pearson is the first book in her new young adult fantasy series, The Remnant Chronicles. Set in a unique fantasy world that's rich in traditions, The Kiss of Deception boast a smart and strong-willed heroine. One who defies tradition only to realize she cannot run from her responsibility. This is a heroine's journey, one filled with light and dark moments. One of self-discovery, love and magic as well as sacrifice and responsibility. I fell into this story captivated and enthralled until the last page turned. A unique world with fascinating settings and wonderful writing makes this book not only appealing to both adult and young adult readers, but very hard to put down.

What I loved about The Kiss of Deception:

Mary E. Pearson's world of The Remnant Chronicles is rich in traditions and folklore, but subtle enough not to overwhelm with too heavy of details. Throughout the story there's beautiful excerpts taken from sacred text and traditional songs, giving readers a hint of the magic behind Lia's heritage as an First Daughters to the Morrighan and gives us clues about the mysterious Vendan.

Political Intrigue and Exciting Kingdoms. In this first book, readers are introduce to the three main Kingdoms of The Remnant, including the Kingdom of Morrighan, where Princess Lia begins the story as the First Daughter, who rebels against her arranged marriage, her betrothed's Kingdom of Dalbreck, and the mysterious Kingdom of Venda, home to the supposedly ruthless and uneducated barbarians, well known to be enemies to both Kingdoms of Morrighan and Dalbreck. There's political intrigue between the Kingdoms as well a mystery that seems to connect them beyond alliances and war that I found completely fascinating.

Rich world-building and unique characters. I was impressed and surprised by the rich and varied details in the world building as well as many unique secondary characters that slowly became apparent as the story progressed. Through Lia's travels, some willingly some not, we come across royal and not so royal soldiers, assassins, princes, barbarians, spies, and even vagabond gypsies. There are excursions through enemy territories, dangerous forest, and treks across ancient and fabled ruins rumored to be touched by the gods. This is only book one in a planned series, and already I'm amazed and excited to explore the possibilities held within this magical and intriguing realm hinted at, and the myths and folklore of its people.

Princess Lia. I immediately connected with Lia, and fell in love with her character. Intelligent, brave, and loyal, she is counterbalanced by her sometime impulsive nature and quickness to judge. In the beginning of the story she seemed to be a bit selfish and irresponsible as she defies tradition and dares to escape the politically arrange marriage. Yet, forced under new circumstances, she quickly begins to grow and mature, taking on responsibilities that come at great cost and suffering. I loved how in The Kiss of Deception, Lia seems to be a realistic and slightly imperfect heroine. One who embarks on a simple journey in order to escape responsibility, but ends up traveling a heroines journey, and in the end she truly begins to become a formidable heroine.

The twisty, love-triangle romance. Many times as a reader, the dreaded love triangle can frustrate or disappoint me. This is not the case in this story. When Lia flees her arrange marriage, she is followed by the prince and an unknown assassin. When she comes across them while assuming a false identity while working as a barmaid, she does not know who they are, nor does the reader to some degree. Whereas the story is told mostly from Lia's perspective with alternating chapter labeled and told from The Prince and The Assassin's perspective, later Mary E. Pearson throws in a twist by simply referring to them as Rafe and Kaden, somewhat ambiguously. Lia begins to fall for one of them, which one we can't be certain. And, both Rafe and Kaden begin to have their own complicated feelings for Lia. Why does this work? Our senses are forced to simply accept what is happening, to look beyond the roles each character is assigned originally and what feels right. Now, we are forced to just feel as Princess Lia, Rafe and Kaden do. As you're turning the pages, you can't help, but wonder which one is which, Prince or Assassin? A lovely twist in the romance that completely worked for me. I had my favorite, yet The Kiss of Deception blurs the lines between Rafe and Kaden, good and bad, making it difficult to completely dismiss one or the other!

What I wanted more of from The Kiss of Deception:

To be honest, this story was nearly a perfect read for me. My only wish was for this amazing new series to have a touch more magic incorporated into it, especially as far as Princess Lia's gifts as a First Daughter are concerned. There are visions, and hints wrapped up in the folklore and myths of the people, but only lightly touched upon. I do believe much more is to come as layer by layer the connection between the kingdoms and the myths and folklore a revealed.

The Kiss of Deception was an amazing read, and it completely captivated me from beginning to end! Perfect for both young adult and adults looking for a great fantasy read. Of course, there's a cliffhanger at the end, it's a series after all, and I'm going to have a hard time waiting for the next installment. I'm feeling completely greedy and want it now. The wait is going to be hard!

My Rating: 5 Stars. Amazing! I loved it!

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Henry Holt and Co. in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Henry Holt and Co. for the review opportunity!