Title: The Guinevere Deception
Author: Kiersten White
Rating: 4/5 stars
Publisher: Delacorte Press
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?
I was super keen to follow Guinevere’s story in this retelling. Guinevere was never really given much of a story in BBC’s Merlin series, so knowing that we were getting a main character who is both a changeling with magic AND a protector/knight, I was excited! Guinevere is young and confused about her life, but she has a goal in mind that she is absolutely determined to achieve, even though she knows little about Arthur (her stranger-of-a-husband-and-king), his kingdom, and even herself. It is a story filled with magic and politics. There is also a tiny spark of romance that (thankfully) does not overshadow the main points of the plot. This made the objective of the plot stand out so much more on its own, which on one hand is great, but on the other it made any character development in the story suffer quite a bit.
While the side characters were great and had depth, I found Guinevere a little boring. I was also not too convinced about her relationship with the people around her. Maybe it’s because we focus so little on her back story and the root of her upbringing that it makes the reader a little hard to relate to her in the first place. Then again, there was a lot that had to be unpacked. The lack of connection between the reader and Guinevere can be a little off-putting at the beginning, which was also why the story is a little slow paced to start with. But it was an enjoyable book nonetheless. I did not expect to like it this much! I’m glad I took my time and savored the story. The first half of the book was pretty slow (which is understandable because lost of world building elements were being established then), but after that the story really picked up and so much starts to happen. I loved the political intrigue and the structure of the whole novel. Being a Merlin fan makes the story personally easy to read too, and I thought the author’s take on the Arthurian legend was very interesting! It wasn’t anything too ‘epic’, but it’s still a page-turner!
I’m so excited for the sequel. That ending left me wanting MORE! If epic fantasy isn’t really your thing (but you like a fantasy story with a good amount of romance and political intrigue), The Guinevere Deception is a great ‘light’ Fantasy read!
Thank you so much Penguin Books Australia for sending a copy over in exchange for an honest review!