Series: Camelot Rising #1
Published by Delacorte Press on November 5, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, Retelling
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own..
THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION Review
Everyone who follows my blog knows I love retellings. I seriously can’t get enough of them and have been especially intrigued by the influx of retellings focusing on the legend of King Arthur and Camelot. When I heard that Kiersten White had one coming out and that it would focus on Guinevere, I knew I just had to read it. I’ve been wanting to try one of White’s books for ages anyway, so The Guinevere Deception seemed like a perfect fit. Sadly, however, it ended up being somewhat of a mixed bag for me.
I was hooked from the moment I realized that Guinevere was not the Guinevere from the original Arthurian legend. Instead, she’s a witch sent by Merlin to protect King Arthur. I loved how unique White’s take on the Lady Guinevere is and thought it was absolutely brilliant to have her placed in the castle, posing as Arthur’s wife, but really serving as a secret weapon right under any enemy’s nose. It might just be me, but I also found it amusing that Arthur was totally cool with going along with Merlin’s plan. He hadn’t found anyone he wanted to marry yet anyway, so hey, why not?
One of my favorite parts of The Guinevere Deception was watching Arthur and Guinevere’s relationship develop. Around every other character, Guinevere has to put up a front and play her assigned role, but when she and Arthur are alone, she has those rare moments where she can let her guard down and we get to see more of the real Guinevere. I wouldn’t go so far as to call their relationship romantic by any stretch — it’s more of a friendship or alliance — but it’s just nice watching two people have meaningful conversations and get to know each other better.
The world building was intriguing as well. I really like the way White brings her vision of a magical Camelot to life and was especially fascinated by the role of the trees in the opening scenes. They appear to engulf and destroy a small village, leaving behind no survivors. That whole man vs. nature creepy supernatural vibe really sets the tone for the rest of the book and left me hungry to know so much more about this world.
There’s one other scene I adored and I can’t say much about it for fear of spoilers, so all I’m going to say is that fans of Brienne of Tarth from Games of Thrones will love it too.
So, why the average rating when I clearly enjoyed several elements of The Guinevere Deception? In one word, pacing. The pacing of the book is excruciatingly slow and honestly just seemed to meander aimlessly for over two-thirds of the book. Merlin has sent Guinevere to protect Arthur but he never tells her who or what the threat is, so she just wanders around, chats with other characters we recognize from the Arthurian legend like Mordred, she ties magical protection knots, and tying the knots makes her tired so she has to rest. The knot magic was interesting at first, but after a while, I found it boring.
The characters, for the most part, felt very flat too. The exceptions to that were Guinevere and Mordred. Most of the other characters were unfortunately pretty forgettable. Between this and the pacing, I just found it very difficult to get fully invested in the story and found myself full on skimming by the halfway point.
I will say that the last third of the book is pretty amazing though. It has the action, the betrayals, and all of the excitement we were promised in the synopsis. The real threat to King Arthur is also finally revealed, but gosh, it just took so long to get there! I don’t want to say I didn’t care by this point, but I think an earlier reveal would have had me more invested in the story overall and in how Guinevere and Arthur would deal with the threat. I have a feeling that the rest of the series is going to be very exciting based on all of the set up done here.
If you’re into King Arthur retellings and don’t mind a slow burn plot, I’d definitely suggest giving Kiersten White’s The Guinevere Deception a try.
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?