Hello Humans! You may or may not have been expecting this review if you follow me on my Youtube channel or my Twitter. For those who do not (why not?) I will summarise: I love Kiersten White with all of my RUBBISH heart and I will get hopelessly excited about anything and everything she publishes, but when I heard she was publishing an Arthurian re-imagining – I about lost my mind. When PRH said they would send me an advanced copy I LOST IT FULLY, and that loss of mental function is my reasoning for this review being a little bit late…
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?
Honestly, I wish I could tell you what it is about Kiersten White’s writing specifically that hooks me in each of her books. From vampire slayers to gender-flipped Vlad the impaler she just grabs me. So I can’t completely explain what it is I love about this book because I have no words for the essence of KW’s writing. However, I do have a lot of things I loved about this book that I can share with you.
The main character. I wasn’t expecting to like Guinevere, if I’m honest, I think that her character was always a bit…wet to me? Even in books that were supposed to be reclaiming her character I still felt as though there was something missing. Perhaps the solution is to have a Guinevere who is not in fact Guinevere? But no, I thought there was a good mix of ‘naive young girl does not fully understand her role in all of this’ alongside ‘young woman who will do whatever it takes to accomplish her goals and is also a badass’.
Sliding neatly from talking about Guinevere into talking about how cool her magic was! Kiersten White’s books (to date) as far as I have experienced them, have never been high magic, this one was probably the most ‘magical’ of all of her books which I have read. I was interested to see what kind of system she would use and whether it would work in this context. I’m delighted to say I adored the magic system in this book, it’s one of those situations where there are multiple ways to do magic and some people learn one way and others choose to learn differently. In Guinevere’s case, she prefers to use knot magic – which felt so smart given the time period (it’s not officially historical but you get the vibe) since weaving, sewing and other textile art would have been so common – it just works so well and had that ‘this magic feels attainable’ thing that I personally love.
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I think anyone who knows even a little about Arthurian legend will be waiting on Lancelot. I can’t spoil it – but I did gasp. Bring on more Lancelot, please.
I think hardcore Arthurian ‘fans’ will find this book a little light on detail, but I think it works as a framework for the story. It feels like as a reader you meet versions of these characters, and it doesn’t have that ‘OH LOOK AT WHAT I DID I HAVE DONE SO MUCH RESEARCH’ feeling that some retellings can get. I’d be comfortable recommending this to someone who knew next to nothing about Arthurian legend, but I wouldn’t give it to someone who wanted to learn – if that makes sense?
I don’t think this book was as ‘perfect’ as I’ve found other Kiersten White books. I think the relationship with Arthur could have been developed more, and that sometimes the memory loss was more of a hindrance than something that brought interest to the story – but perhaps that’s just me. Overall I have to say I had a wonderful time reading this book and I have every faith that later books in this series are going to knock my socks off.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
The Guinevere Deception is available now!
What say you? Have you read this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!