Title: The Traitor’s Kiss
Author: Erin Beaty
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Date published: May 9, 2017
Page Count: 352
Source: Book distributor
A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.
– MY REVIEW –
I will let you all know, right off the bat, that this review is difficult for me to write. I had not heard anything about this book or its author before requesting it, other than the description I found on Goodreads. It sounded like just the kind of book I’d been wanting to read, and I therefore requested it and started reading it. I was about one third through the book when it was pointed out to me that there was some controversy involving this book, but I did not ask for details, or research anything about this matter because it had been my choice to request and read this book, I was already part-way in, and I wanted to finish it without having my opinion influenced. Since finishing the book, however, I did happen to look into what the problem was, and will be addressing this at the end of my review.
The first things I noticed about this book was that it is very well written. The Traitor’s Kiss is narrated in the third person, which was (and always is) a pleasant surprise for me. The quality of the writing itself is also above average! I really enjoyed some of the turns of phrase, as well as the descriptions in this book. The pacing was also quite pleasant! Some parts of the plot were a little longer, and more detailed than other, but that was alright for me because I like detail (especially in a book that is well-written, and wherein the plot is enjoyable). I really liked that certain event did not take ages to actually happen (as is sometimes the case in fantasy novels), and the author impressed me with how she wove different parts of the plot together in ways that I did not predict.
The characters were quite memorable, and I found myself caring for a number of them! It isn’t every day that I will remember the names of the main characters, and some of the supporting characters in a book, but that was definitely the case with The Traitor’s Kiss! Reading about character interactions was also fun for the most part, and the dialogue was very well-written. One of the most annoying things for me when reading books, is unnatural-sounding or awkward dialogue! So I was relieved not to have come across that here. The romantic plot in this book as also quite satisfying, and some of the scenes were a little more heated than the ones I am used to reading in YA (which was a bonus)!
The world reminded me a little of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead in that it was a fantasy world, but it was strongly based on the way society was in Victorian England. Gender roles were the same, and the manner in which characters spoke, was almost as formal as the English used in that time. I wouldn’t expect there to be full out Victorian English in a YA novel, but due to my being a big fan of Victorian literature, I think that a little part of me still hopes for it, haha.
What I have brought up about the world also brings me into what I came across in the book on my own, as well as what I read from other reviewers, however. Yes, this is the part where I will be addressing what I’d mentioned in the first paragraph. The Traitor’s Kiss has been accused of being racist, misogynistic, and to contain girl-on-girl hate, and I will discuss each of these matters in the order in which I have listed them.
Regarding skin colour used in this book, I would like to say that I realized on my own that the norm is white skin, and that the aggressors in this book were depicted as being dark-skinned. This bothered me because, while I understand that the society in this book is based on that of Victorian England, a society which was mostly white, this book is also set in a fantasy world. If you are writing a historical novel, and wish to stick as close to the reality of a place as you can, and your setting is Victorian England, then yes, the majority of the characters would be white. When a book is set in a fantasy world, however, I find that there is no excuse for the lack of diversity in the protagonists. The fact that the aggressors are dark-skinned, does not help the book in this regard, but rather places more emphasis on the issue. Going into this book, I was also unaware that it had been marketed as a Mulan re-telling. I found out about the book when it was already being pitched as Jane Austen with espionage, and thus felt none of the disappointment I would have felt, if I had started reading this book while under the impression that it was a Mulan re-telling.
Next I will address the way in which some of the male characters addressed or spoke about female characters. Yes, there are some phrases and actions which were disrespectful, but I did not read them as extremely disrespectful. And when taking into consideration that the society in The Traitor’s Kiss is based on Victorian England and social roles as they were in that time, and in that place, then it comes as no surprise to me that such phrases occurred. They made me frown a little, but overall I found them to be a tool which enforced how closely the society in the book is based to that of Victorian England. The same thing applies to the dislike some of the female characters had toward each other. Victorian England was very focused on societal hierarchy, and the social spheres in The Traitor’s Kiss are no different. Therefore, it came as a given to me, that women of higher social status would sneer down upon those who are below them. I was in no way surprised, or bothered by this.
Overall, I did enjoy this book despite some of the things I came across while I was reading it, and then afterward. To those who are still willing to give this book a try, I would just suggest that they be aware of some of the thing which I discussed, but that they should form their own opinions. I for one, will be reading the sequel (if there ever is one), because I became attached to the characters, and am also curious as to where the author will take this plot. In the case that anyone reads this very long post, I hope that my opinion will be taken as my own personal one, and that my opinion will be respected in the manner in which I respected the opinions of other reviewers.
– ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Erin Beaty was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which means she can’t drive a tractor, but she won’t eat veggies that come from a can. She graduated from the US Naval Academy with a degree in rocket science and somehow always ended up writing her study group’s lab reports. After serving in the fleet as a weapons officer and a leadership instructor, she resigned to pursue her side hobby of populating the Church of Rome. It still amazes her when other people want to hear the stories that come out of her head. She and her husband have five children, two cats, and a vegetable garden and live wherever the navy tells them to go.
– PURCHASE LINKS –
THANK YOU FOR READING MY REVIEW! HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT DID YOU THINK? AND IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, DO YOU WANT TO, OR NOT? HOW COME? LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!