The Kiss of Deception
by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Publication date: 8 July, 2014
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), Hardcover, 486 pages
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.
Sometimes I have a preconceived perception of how a novel would blow me away and when it ends up impressing me in an alternate way, I don’t really know what to make of it nor how to properly review it. The Kiss of Deception is a perfect example of that situation. It was a good read but not as distinct and striking as I had hoped, probably as it was more character than plot oriented and I had expected it to be the other way round.
The story started with Lia, the protagonist and also First Daughter of the House of Morrighan (AKA Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia of the Kingdom of Morrighan) escaping her marriage to the Prince of the Kingdom of Dalbreck, risking war between the two kingdoms that had never had an easy relationship. It would follow Lia as she and her friend, Pauline, attempts to start anew in Terravin, an idyllic seaside town, although her royal highness’s destiny would refuse to leave her be.
Personally, I found Lia a beautiful character. Despite her very first decision in the story seeming extremely selfish, you’ll discover she’s actually an extremely caring and generous person who stands up for the weak and always puts others before herself. Why, then, did she jeopardize the already tense relationship between Morrighan and Dalbreck? She’s simply not one for meaningless sacrifices and after knowing her reasons for jilting the Prince of Dalbreck, her decision would seem a lot more wise than thoughtless.
Despite Lia’s impulsiveness, her courage, willingness to learn from mistakes, and understanding towards others with different beliefs made her wise beyond her years. Lia’s definitely hopping onto my list of favorite fictional people and I daresay she is great ruler material too!
Now, the topic of the two handsome strangers, Kaden and Rafe, who arrived in Terravin after Lia and Pauline, one an assassin dispatched to kill her and one the prince Lia had abandoned…how should I even touch on this without giving away spoilers? The two guys’ true identities had been a complete mystery up until the middle of the book and despite analyzing and re-analyzing the various POVs, I still ended up shock when the revelation came.
Kaden is a rather charming guy, blonde, easygoing, and friendly. Rafe on the other hand is brooding, serious, and not the best with words; a teensy bit awkwardly somber? Both had their strengths and flaws and if I was to be honest, I really couldn’t decide who I liked better—nor who I shipped Lia with—at the end! I’ve said multiple times before that I’m not one for love triangles but fear not, potential readers, because the guy whom Lia preferred was made pretty clear towards the start and there had been minimal indecisiveness, if any at all.
However, Lia did take a slightly questionable action, romance wise, in the second half of the novel. In her defense, the events leading up to that did make her move plausible, if one saw her as a seventeen-year-old in an utterly complicated situation. And as a fellow seventeen-year-old girl, I totally empathized with Lia.
Apart from the amazingness of Lia and the swoon-worthy male specimens, I also fell in love with the world of The Remnant Chronicles. The culture of the Morrighese had been so rich and memorable, especially in the religious aspect. Morrighan was an extremely devout kingdom and despite Lia’s disdain for its traditions, their excessive devotion to custom was prudent in bringing this fantasy world to life.
Moreover, I loved how numerous characters always wondered where the Ancients (an ancient race of greedy, power-hungry people—or demi-gods—believed to be wiped out by the gods with only their cities of ruin left behind) had disappeared to, hinting the later books would probably touch on that. The history of every kingdom had been masterfully weaved and I would happily lose myself in the Kingdoms of the Remnant. Oh, did I mention how gorgeous the map in the the book had been?
To wrap up, The Kiss of Deception is a wonderful novel of destiny, duty, adventure, love, and friendship. My only complaint is that the plot was slightly sluggish but the emphasis on world-building and character development does balance it out; every author has his/her strengths and weaknesses, after all. I would absolutely recommend this book to all readers. Fantasy-lovers would enjoy the lush setting while fantasy-freshies would appreciate the amazing characters! Also, you might want to check out the official Pinterest board of The Remnant Chronicles here, to enhance your reading experience.