The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

I have wanted to read this for a while. I do love books that have kings/queens and prince/princesses done well, so this book ticked all the boxes on that score. This book is essentially about Lia who is the princess of the Kingdom of Morrighan. An arranged marriage to a prince to solve the strife in the kingdom is the final straw for Lia. The constrictions and tradition that govern her life as princess send her running away on her wedding day. This sets of a series off events that no one could foresee.

The first half of this book I found really pleasant. In a quaint town, living as a normal person we really got to grips with who the main character is. I absolutely love feisty female characters and I don’t think I’ve read a character like Lia before. It was really good to see someone who is supposed to be royalty and has been brought up with custom and tradition dictating her entire life but it couldn’t stomp out her fire. It shows real strength of character and made me empathise and respect her. It’s always good when you like the main character.

There is a fairly big twist about half way through this novel and it coincides with a change in the tone of the story. It goes from being about a girl getting know herself and existing in an unsheltered life with all the challenges that brings; coexisting with people and understanding relationships. When the twist is revealed however, this almost lovely, pleasing escape that I loved reading is shattered and Lia and the reader are thrust back into reality, the bigger picture. The world of serious issues such as; warring people divided by religion, customs and historical transgressions. Lia and who she was born as takes centre stage and the quintessential life she created for herself is like a dream. She must not only deal with being held captive and attempt to forge some sort of understanding with her captors to stay alive but she faces gut-wrenching heart break. The characters in this book are so varied, but not only that they are full of realism and personality and so the loss of these characters was awful and emotional for me as a reader. In relation to this, I really liked the juxtaposition of the life she wanted and the life she must endure because of who she was born to. The second half of the book is very tense and gripping whereas the first half was lovely and enjoyable.

This entire world that the author has created is influenced by the past. Tradition isn’t just a passing thought or an interesting anecdote like it can be considered today, it is actually a way of life. The way in which the world was created governs the thought process of every character in this book. Even if they don’t always agree, they are still shaped by their version. This is very much like religion today. I don’t really enjoy books that are heavily religious but this novel made it really interesting and focused more upon tradition and myth. I almost wish the stories in this book informed religion today!

When it said Kiss of Deception I didn’t think it was the reader that was going to be deceived. The twist in this book had me rereading the whole thing. I found the twist very disorientating as it is not the sort of twist that I have ever read or ever expected. I had to go back and read parts again to try and wrap my head around it. Upon reflection it was kind of obvious and I bet if some of my friends read it they would have seen it coming. I was too wrapped up in the story to notice. I thought it was going a particular way but I kept getting surprised – hats off to the author for that.

The downsides to this novel is that I felt the twist was a bit jarring and I had already cemented my images in my head so I didn’t really want that twist. I admire it but for me personally I wish it wasn’t in it. But that’s just me. The other downside I felt was that I didn’t think that the magic side of the plot was well-developed enough, I don’t understand the cryptic descriptions that the character is given so I hope that will be better explained. There are a variety of plot strands running through this book and some of them left us hanging so I am hoping that they will begin to make sense in the next book.

Other than those minor issues this is a great read, princess and prince’s showing that they are more than just a title. There is action, shocking revelations and a perilous journey that evidences the damage tradition and war can have on both sides.

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