I received an eARC of this book through NetGalley. I am providing my honest review voluntarily.
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White is the first book in the Camelot Rising series, and it’s a reimagining of the classic Arthurian legend. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I love a good reworking of a traditional story, and this one didn’t disappoint.
Princess Guinevere arrives at Camelot to marry a complete stranger – King Arthur, who is handsome and charming. Magic is forbidden in Camelot, but there are people outside the borders who wish to take over this utopia. Merlin, the famed wizard, comes up with a solution. He is behind Guinevere’s arrival in Camelot. But Guinevere is not who she appears to be – she is a changeling, who has given up her name and her identity to protect King Arthur and Camelot.
In her mission to keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must learn how to manage the demands of her role as Queen, while identifying any threats to Arthur and Camelot, and keeping her magic secret. Because while Arthur’s knights are strong, Guinevere knows that magic is stronger. This tale still has the action, lies, and romance that we’ve come to expect from Arthurian legends, but there are some additional twists you may not see coming. Guinevere is the biggest mystery of all. Will she be able to save Arthur and Camelot from the threats they are facing?
Arthurian legends caught my attention early on in life. I remember being very young and having a book called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. It spurred my interest in the story, and over the years, I’ve read many books in this area. Later on, I read The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and loved how it took the focus off the men and gave a little more of the power to the women. This book carries on in that tradition, and tells the story from the point of view of Guinevere. While other stories view Guinevere as nothing more than arm candy (basically), in this story, she is a strong-minded character with a fixed purpose. The mystery of who she is, and what exactly her role is to be only adds to the allure of this story. I especially enjoyed that while she is portrayed as pretty (but small), she is also depicted as clever, quick thinking, and brave.
The aspect of this story that I liked the best, however, is that the pieces of this story that are taken for granted are turned completely upside down. In every single Arthurian legend, gender roles, sexuality, and race are fixed, while in this story, they are not – Guinevere has a role as a protector, and while it is not specifically stated outright, I get the impression that there is at least one character that is not Caucasian. In legends of King Arthur, the good guys and bad guys are one-dimensional: all good or all bad. However, in this story, we see more nuanced shades of gray; where it’s possible for a “bad” character to do good deeds and perform selfless acts, and “good” characters do things that aren’t necessarily good. It makes the characters more human, and therefore more believable.
While I’m familiar with the traditional story, some parts were changed enough that I never really knew what exactly would happen. It became a story that I wanted to keep reading, in order to find out what would happen next. It wasn’t predictable, even with some parts the same. The pacing was a bit slow, especially in the first half of the book, but the story was interesting and kept my attention. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book when it comes out, even though that’s going to be a while.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 3
Categories: Book Review