Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 8th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
A princess must find her place in a reborn world.
She flees on her wedding day.
She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.
She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.
She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.
Ugh. *moan* *sigh* Oh boy. The Kiss of Deception came out last year to a generally positive reception – in fact, plenty of my closest blogging friends clamored about it as being one of the best new YA fantasy series out there. I am baffled, because I do not understand at all. This book was boring as hell.
Honestly, I should have paid more attention to what this book was about than all of the positive reactions it had gotten. The title conveniently has the word ‘Kiss’ in it, and the premise already introduces the fact that there are two handsome strangers who enter the main character’s life. But basically, this book is 500 pages of love triangle drama, and I am hardly even exaggerating about that. I thought we were getting a princess rebelling to find her own personal freedom instead of being forced to marry a foreign stranger, and while that definitely happens, all that follows is her mooning over two guys.
After fleeing her wedding, Lia arrives at the town of Terravin and starts working in an inn, and soon after that, the love interests arrive. They are the prince she was betrothed to and an assassin, who both instantly know who she is, but she thinks they believe her to be a normal working girl. The prince was going to just observe her from a distance and then return to his kingdom, while the assassin was meant to kill her. But – they both – instantly – fall head over heels for her. I mean, they don’t profess love right away, but they’re both smitten because she’s… beautiful, and I guess there’s something admirable about her throwing away all of her privileges and actually being happy to work in an inn.
What proceeds is just hundreds of pages of nothing. There’s hardly a plot to really pinpoint in this book. Lia’s working in the inn, Rafe and Kaden won’t leave, and they all have ~meaningful eye contact~ all of the time. They’re all lying to each other, but to the reader, the lies are pretty obvious (yes, even the mystery of which one is the prince and which one the assassin – at least for me), and after hundreds of pages it definitely gets tiring. Lia clearly has a preference for Rafe, but strings Kaden along in the friend zone, flirting with him on occasion to pretend she’s not that into Rafe after all. But honestly I found both love interests incredibly dull. Especially because they’re holding so much back, I just don’t see an emotional connection in either ship. They bored me.
What I also don’t understand is that the writing undercuts the romance / swoon-factor on multiple occasions. For example, Lia sneaks off with Rafe during a festival, and then the scene ends. It jumps forward to where she then reflects on what had happened when they were alone together. It doesn’t actually show those kissing scenes in real time! Instead, we’re treated to a reflection of, “He had touched me and kissed me, and it felt really nice,” or something along those lines – force feeding us her perspective, worries, and the like. The book did this on at least two occasions and I cannot for the life of me understand why. If you wanted me to ship the romance, you maybe shouldn’t skip the romantic scenes, ‘kay?
At a certain point, it seems like things are actually going to start happening plot wise, but that backfired soon enough, and it became one of those classic fantasy scenes of hundreds of pages of traveling. Seriously. So. Little. Happens. Along the way we are only given vague clues to a kind of magic that may exist in the land and a “gift” that Lia is supposed to have, but Lia doesn’t even start to grow into that until the very end, which means that the world building is left for the sequels to develop. All that we really know right now is that there are three kingdoms at war and plenty of racial/cultural tensions as a result. And, obviously, there’s a cryptic prophecy. Why did this book have to be 489 pages long?? I honestly cannot understand. That was such a waste of my time.
The only things that I did enjoy were Lia’s courage to abandon her royal life, her fascination with and love for the working life, and her friendship with her maid. But then she started longing for her love interests again and I just closed the book and sighed. Like, I understand her obsession with finding a true love after almost being forced into an arranged marriage, but I also would have maybe respected her more if she was fine being on her own for a while – if she didn’t think about Rafe every other page. By the end, she does appear to have grown a bit: she shows strength and courage at crucial times (when the plot’s not being boring as hell), and there’s an interesting cliffhanger ending which makes me grudgingly curious about the sequel… but I dunno. I doubt it’ll win me over.