Hello Humans! It’s been a long time coming but I’m very excited to be reviewing book two in Kiersten White’s Camelot Rising series – I thoroughly enjoyed The Guinevere Deception last year and when I was sent a review copy of book two there was quite a bit of delighted squealing in my house…
I’ve read a fair few King Arthur but make it YA books in my time so let’s see how book two fares…
EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)
Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.
When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?
So I actually read this right when it came through the door in April of this year – quite a bit of time before I’m writing this review (Mid October 2020) – full disclosure I actually had to reread this before writing because not too much had stuck with me. Now bear in mind that I’ve read over 200 books this year and we’ve been in a pandemic so my mind has been on other things. But I wanted to come clean that this is a review of my second time reading this – since normally you’d be getting my first reaction.
The other thing I did was read this having just finished a re-read of The Guinevere Deception so that book was fresh in my mind. I think with this book the core plot and characters are simple enough that the first few chapters will give you a refresher, but I wanted to get a feel for the characters and their development across the two books and I think you get a better sense of that with a reread. I’ll be focussing on just book two here though!
Book two’s central theme in terms of Guinevere is her sense of belonging and her identity as queen of Camelot, for the most part I thought this theme was handled well, I could have maybe done with a teensy bit less mooning after various romantic interests but that may have been a product of my mood at the time. If you’re in a place with your reading where you quite fancy a love triangle (or love polygons of varying kinds) then you’ll probably enjoy this. But it is the found family aspect of this book where I really felt it shined. Lancelot, Brangien and other characters combined with Guinevere make for very good reading.
I think I can best sum it up when I say that my absolute favourite bit of this book was when Guinevere and her friends were outside of Camelot on a quest of sorts – something about getting away from the Arthur plot and setting this group on a separate plot arc just made everything feel a bit more fun – which is what I think these books need more of. While I think the idea of wild magic vs the structure of Camelot is interesting for me I’d be much more interested in ‘Guinevere goes questing’. While I don’t think it’s fair to critique a book for being something different to what I think it ought to be – I just wanted to flag up that maybe the meta-plot of this series isn’t the most interesting thing about it.
My overwhelming impression of this book and of this series is that when you are in the mood for it – it’s really good. I think anyone who loves YA will probably have a great time with this regardless but personally I need to put myself in a mindframe where I can shut out the voice that says ‘don’t you have bigger things to worry about?’ So let’s assume we shut out that voice – this is a strong sequel to book one, continuing on with some of the themes and building on the relationships forged earlier on. There are some exciting moments in the story, though varied pacing can make them feel a little out of place. I think the third book might be what makes or breaks the series for me, will Guinevere find the strength and the ‘just do it’ attitude of some of White’s other heroines or will she remain this often meek introspective character? I’m hoping for the former but I will take the latter if done well.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
The Camelot Betrayal is out November 10th
What say you? What other books do you need to be in the mood for? Let me know in the comments below!