The Guinevere Deception (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Author : Kiersten White
Published By : Delacorte Press
Year Published : November 5, 2019
Genre / Tags : Fantasy, Retelling, Adventure, YA
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 352 pages (Hardcover)
From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.
There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.
Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
*THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CAMELOT RISING TRILOGY*
The Guinevere Deception is the first in a YA series called Camelot Rising. It’s a retelling of the Arthurian Legend told from the perspective of Guinevere. Given center stage, her characterization has been modified quite a bit from its origins and she’s given comparably more agency, power,and back story while still keeping reasonably to the time period’s expectations.
The Guinevere of this tale is keen on protecting King Arthur and works in the shadows to keep him safe and investigate any questionable figure that emerges to threaten his reign. A refreshing far cry from the usual Guinevere depiction. Moreover, she is afforded special abilities in the form of powerful magic, but she must hide that gift from everyone at all costs.
While this seems like the makings for an exciting and stealthy tale, the first half of this book (barring a few pre-Camelot chapters that I found charming enough) moves at a glacial pace. Guinevere has abilities she can barely use for fear of getting caught. She has to attend to being queen and put up a facade of weak helplessness that often dampens her journey instead of adding nuance to it. The sequence of events in this book lacks a captivating force. So little of note even happens in that first half, which is unfortunate.
In the second half, more wheels start turning. There is also some interesting rep (a lesbian character and a possible trans character) but their portrayal is only mildly realized. It’s toward the tail end of the tale where everything came together. Even the writing style (which is fine throughout) became more impressive, matching to an emergence of impassioned and conflicting events that develop too late and in a rush.
As an aside, I have this odd fascination with villains. That’s probably an unpopular opinion so I feel the need to state that before going further- as the whole rest of this review may constitute an unpopular opinion. I also discuss the ending at this point, though still intending to keep it spoiler-free.
There was who I thought to be a decently realized and interesting villain in this tale. Not naming names but their presence serves to highlight Guinevere as a character with the potential to be more ambiguous. She has gifts that could be used for good or evil- or something not so black and white. And what is good and evil in this story, really? Camelot bans magic, she uses magic. Is she the only one who can possibly use magic without being evil? Are all the forces in this story who oppose Camelot plainly bad or can they be more nuanced than that or even reasoned with?
There was a moment very late in the book where a door seemed to open up for a more shocking, interesting, shades-of-grey possibility and even a whole other setting that could have been explored. I instantly had all kinds of hopes during that climax. My mind was a flurry of exciting possibilities for the ending. Without revealing the nature of it, I’ll just say I didn’t care for how the ending actually turned out.
Throughout this book, Guinevere is laid out plainly as a one-note (that note being “protect arthur”, a sentiment expressed to the point of repetition) heroine with a stunningly boring and idealized Arthur at her side.
If the sequel’s summary shows any hint of diverting from that rigidity, it might be worth reading. But The Guinevere Deception on its own was dull for too long, with a little spark of potential later on.
Overall Rating – 6/10
Why You Should Try It – An Arthurian retelling that centers female characters and adds modern day representation. The writing flows well. I finished this fast and easily despite gripes about the dull chain of events. Most 3-star books are not so consistently readable as this one is. The late middle point and up to the ending has the lion’s share of intriguing possibilities.
Why You Might Not Like It – 50-60% of this book lacks remarkable events. Slow to find its greater points. While some characters are afforded back story, their general personalities are best described as tepid and lack memorable dialogue/wit.
The Guinevere Deception (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Thanks so much for reading my review of The Guinevere Deception! Have you read this book or have it on your TBR? Have you read anything else by Kiersten White? Thanks also in advance for your comments/likes, they are always appreciated. ~ Kitty