The Traitor's Kiss: Review
Note: I received a free Advanced Reader's e-galley from the publisher for review.
It's rare to find a refreshing take on young adult romance, particularly when the story depends on political intrigue and complicated relationships to drive the plot forward. The Traitor's Kiss, by Erin Beaty, is nothing if not archetypical, but I can't help falling in love with the protagonists, and if you love young adult romance with some action and a touch of strategy, then you'll enjoy this read. Spoiler-free review below!
We meet Sage Fowler, the daughter born to a man of low status and a woman of high birth who were deeply in love. In this world, it's typically bastards who receive the name of a plant or flower. Though Sage is legitimate by birth and by any other means, the very fact that her parents chose to go against these archaic traditions and name her "Sage" (a very pretty name, I think!), is telling of how she doesn't quite fit into her society. She doesn't want to be married and would rather spend her time with her nose buried in books or following a teaching vocation. Instead, she is apprenticed to a matchmaker, whose craft is much more complicated than Sage would have thought. Matchmakers hold the kingdom at their fingertips as they weave political alliance and maintain power balances. They prepare to bring a group of select ladies to the kingdom's capital for the Concordium, a celebration where ladies and lords are betrothed and matched.
We alternate between Sage and a few other characters from the military escort intended to escort the women. The soldiers we meet are full of character and are distinct from each other. Each soldier has a clear purpose and talent, and I particularly love the brotherly relationships between them. They eclipse the gaggle of women they're supposed to escort, and I didn't bother paying them any attention.
Sage is a real gem among gems. I am a huge fan of strong female protagonists, but that strength is hard to balance in romance. I think Beaty did a great job of introducing Sage to us as an intelligent young woman, and kept reminding us that her last name is Fowler, after all, and she's adept at all things outdoors. She prefers to ride horses in breeches instead of skirts (the travesty!), can shoot targets with a sling, and is not afraid of getting roughed up in order to protect herself and the people she loves.
The political drama of the court was a little complicated to follow, since one of the powers in contention had only brief appearances and seemed negligible, even though their name was thrown around quite often as a threat. So instead, I just focused on Sage and her developing attraction to one of the soldiers in their Concordium escort. Let's call him Mouse, shall we? Mouse is a lovely and deep persona, and was crafted really well to match Sage's level of maturity and dignity.
The Traitor's Kiss could easily be read as a standalone novel, though there are now plans to work the story into a trilogy called The Traitor's Circle. So, if you don't care for series', you can still read The Traitor's Kiss and feel pretty satisfied.
Thank you Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the advanced digital galley! The Traitor's Kiss comes out on May 9, 2017 and you can pre-order it here!
Overall, I rate The Traitor's Kiss4/5 stars!