The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
You know that feeling you get when a book takes you completely by surprise? The Kiss of Deception takes that feeling and multiplies it to a million, then throws in a little extra for good measure.
THIS BOOK BLEW ME AWAY!
I don’t even know how to put into words how much I loved this! I love Lia, I love the assassin/prince stuff, I love the world, I love the plot, I love EVERYTHING. And yet all over goodreads people are dishing out one-stars like candy?????????
The blurb is borderline terrible at giving a good picture of what goes down so let me give it a better shot. Lia doesn’t want to marry the presumably old and ugly ‘toad’ of a prince her parents betrothed her to so she runs off with her best friend Pauline the morning of her wedding. They settle down in a common town where Pauline has connections and the Lia immerses herself in her new life, becoming a waitress at a local inn. Then arrives the jilted prince who’s both pissed with Lia for ditching and impressed that she had the balls to take off but he hadn’t, and the assassin sent to kill her. So ensues the love triangle everyone expects. What the blurb doesn’t mention is it’s after all this that the real stuff kicks in, complete with kidnapping, mass graves, evil beasts, feuding kingdoms, blossoming magic, and so much more.
From the very upsetting reviews I read over on goodreads, it appears the biggest issues people had was a lack of actual fantasy (which I’ll get to) and the fact that there’s a love triangle.
News flash: MOST YA BOOKS HAVE LOVE TRIANGLES.
And I hate them, I really do; I can rant about that whiny back-and-forth sh*t for hours. Eeeeeeeexcept for when they’re done right or done well. The Kiss of Deception is both.
First of all, Lia makes a decision really quickly about which guy she prefers and–wait for it!– sticks with it for the entire novel. Yep, you heard me. But what about Guy 2, you ask? Guy 2 wishes he got Lia. And sure, they have a couple moments but they are FEW, they are HESITANT, and they are only because she thinks Guy 1 is GONE and she is HURTING. I can fully forgive that. Plus! The whole triangle thing is basically solved and relegated back to it’s proper lovely linear self by the end of it, which NEVER HAPPENS. This is what dreams are made of (yes, I referenced The Lizzie McGuire Movie. No, I am not sorry).
ALSO I REALLY F**KING LOVE GUY 1. *inserts all the hearts and heart eyes imaginable*
Guy 1’s greatness pales in comparison only to Lia’s greatness. I love how tenacious and brave she is, I love that even when she’s selfish I still find myself supporting her, I love that she jumps straight into her new life with nary a complaint, I love that she’s flirty and feels like a real teenage girl despite being the princess of a fictional kingdom of a thousand year old society. I also love just how much she grows in the story. She starts off a little selfish and a little naive but by the end of the novel her strength is fully shining through. She starts making decisions based on what’s good for others even when they contradict her own desires, and her actions betray fortitude that you only get glimpses of in the beginning. As a heroine, she doesn’t have much opportunity in this first book to be especially heroic, but you can already tell by the end of The Kiss of Deception that she’s going to be a pretty damn great one!
Actually, just in general all the characters are real and amazing and even those I disliked as people I enjoyed as characters. I also liked that there are a LOT of people you get to meet over the course of the novel–so! many! connections! 😀
The Kiss of Deception indeed because this book HAD ME DECEIVED. The real hook here is that you know there’s an assassin and a prince but you don’t know which is which. That’s not all though! The central conflict of the plot is utterly unexpected, and even certain character actions/reactions take you off guard. And unless you’re some kind of crazy genius guesser gifted by the gods of basically every single pantheon to have ever existed with superhuman guessing ability, I can almost guarantee that you will not see half this sh*t coming.
I am very rarely surprised by books anymore, and yet The Kiss of Deception didn’t know how to stop surprising me. It delivered me countless knocks-you-breathless-and-senseless roundhouse kicks of shock right in the gut and I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed reading something so much.
Since I clearly have not yet sung enough praises, I hereby declare Pearson’s fantasy world to be wonderful as well. I don’t mean this totally in the sense that the high fantasy genre may imply since there isn’t that much in typical fantasy, but the setting is so rich and real and detailed that it becomes an entity on its own. Don’t kill me for this comparison, but it reminds me in a sense of a GoT Westeros type thing. Nothing compares to Martin’s world and world building, but Pearson’s world is similar in the vividness and breadth of its history and religion and conflict. The Kiss of Deception is not high fantasy like Sarah J Maas’ books are high fantasy, with all the magic and the myths and the faeries, but like George R. R. Martin’s novels are high fantasy, with its pseudo-medieval world and fully fleshed out culture. Also, Pearson’s writing is beautiful, which adds immeasurably to the setting.
My closing thought on the awesomeness that is The Kiss of Deception is simply this: read it. Do yourself a favour and read this book–I can almost promise you won’t be disappointed!
Click here for the book synopsis on Goodreads!