Earlier this year, I declared 2015 THE YEAR OF THE UNFINISHED TRILOGY. I decided to stop being afraid of the long waits between books within trilogies to publish and just dive right in. I’ve been on a roll lately, where I finish a new first book in a series, mark the next book on my calendar, and move on.
Unfortunately, this is NOT the case for the REMNANT Chronicles. I devoured Kiss of Deception and then quickly jumped to Heart of Betrayal (we’ll get to that review a little later). And while I didn’t come up for air all weekend, I will not claim this to be the most perfect series ever written, nor my favorite. There are flaws, but they all add up to something intangibly wonderful and compelling. Let’s explore them.
“Today was the day a thousand dreams would die and a single dream would be born.” From its first sentence, the style of writing of The Kiss of Deception is lush and beautiful. It draws the reader in and poetically sets the tone as they enter the fantasy Kingdom of Remnant. Pearson’s writing style is old-timey enough to give this series a sense of taking place either 200 years ago or in the near future, where are language has been lost and recovered in the form of Shakespeare and Lord Byron.
This book contains one of my most hated plot devices: The Love Triangle, possibly a square and a far-off-distant love hexagon. EVERYONE falls in love with Lia. But once you get to know her, you might throw yourself into the mix because Lia, while royalty and a princess, knows how to roll with the punches. For example, there will be no surprise in me telling you that at the beginning of this novel, Lia is about to enter into an arranged marriage that she wants no part of. So, instead of just sitting back and passively letting her life pass, Lia makes like Julia Roberts and becomes a RUNAWAY BRIDE. She doesn’t just run from the wedding, though, she abdicates her throne, her life and her family and moves far away to become…a bar maid.
She’s actually quite a savvy princess-com-bar-maid. She’s self-aware: “here my status didn’t amount to a fat cow patty, and I had better learn to dampen my imperious fiery tongue.” She’s conscious of the dangers around her and that she could meet her end in various ways.
There’s no coincidence that Lia’s rash wedding day decision have far-reaching consequences, outside of her living situation. Her jilted soon-to-be husband, Prince of Dalbreck, embarks on a journey to find his would-be bride—you know, out of curiosity. A mystery assassin from a far-off-land called Venda is sent to create political havoc by locating and eliminating Lia. Conveniently (remember, I mentioned there are faults with this novel), the Prince and the Assassin meet just outside the door of the tavern Lia is working at and decide to stay a bit to observe the Princess (unbeknownst to each other), who has no idea who they are, and they have no idea who the other is. Tricky.
So, our princess is now a bar maid in a small town and gets to know the Prince and the Assassin anonymously during their time there. As I mentioned there is a probable romance, lots of folksy descriptions of the town itself and its colorful citizenry. It’s quaint and cute and there are lots of descriptions of Lia’s daily tasks and events. In addition, Lia gets to know the new boys in town, who also happen to lodge at the Inn she picked to work. In truth, it feels a lot like Season 2 of The Walking Dead, where they sit on a farm and talk for 13 episodes, but without any zombies. Those 200+ pages drag a bit, but I promise, it is worth the exertion because suddenly, there is a HUGE plot twist and the story turns into something else entirely quickly. Many people seemed upset by this, but my only thought on that is that YOU ARE READING A BOOK CALLED KISS OF DECEPTION. What were you expecting from your story, straightforward honesty?! Please.
If you concentrate too hard on the actual story, your head may actually explode from boredom in the first 250 pages or so. There’s not too much new territory covered there. However, when Lia begins to explore the true history of The Kingdom of Remnant, you really get a taste of the FANTASY element. Pearson plays it out like a puzzle and lays major clues along the way, from breaking up the sections of the book with excerpts from “The Last Testament of Gaudrel,” “Morrighan Book of Holy Text” and the “Song of Venda” to having Lia hear oral histories she’s never learned.
There’s not too much more I can mention without giving things away, except that you’d better have Heart of Betrayal handy when you’re done, because you’re not going to want to wait once you read the last lines of this novel. So, hurry up and get started because we’ll have a lot to review next week when I review “Heart of Betrayal.”