THE TRAITOR’S KISS
Series: Traitor’s Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release date: May 9th 2017
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.
“You are on the wrong path.”
The Traitor’s Kiss is offensive and incredibly disappointing. Right off the bat, the readers are exposed to racism and misogyny. Adding to the slow pace, the shifts between POVs being rather abrupt and confusing, the lack of world-building, and the disinteresting plot, it is very difficult to find something good about this book.
Erin Beaty still has a lot to learn, both as a writer and as a human being. Her debut novel fails to meet all expectations, makes use of the dark skinned aggressor trope, has girls hating on other girls, and fails to capture the reader’s attention with an interesting and engaging plot. So while I thank the publisher for the sending me ARC, I have to give this just 1 star.
First off, addressing the racism. Like all YA Fantasy books, there are kingdoms on the brink of war. In this particular case, we have the Kimisar and the Demora. The Kimisar often are described as just ‘dark’, and are usually seen by other characters as being uncivilized/savages. It’s reminiscent of the problems found in other YA books released this year, as you can read here.
This also contributes to the lack of world-building. Beaty is very vague when it comes to the kingdoms’ culture and traditions. Her descriptions mostly fall on superficial aspects like clothing and, again, saying POC characters are ‘darker’ than others. This makes it difficult to understand and care about the conflict between kingdoms.
There is also a lot of girls hating on other girls in this book. Sage, our main character, finds work as a matchmaker, and her job is pretty much to pair people off into marriage. Every girl that goes through Sage’s interviews is beaten down and hated on. Sage is very much a ‘I’m not like other girls’ type of character, and that’s just sad and extremely frustrating and angering.
The abrupt shifts in POV between the main characters are also a problem for me There are no chapter headers in the ARC copy, so it is super jarring going from Sage’s POV to an entire different character voice and back again. Hopefully this won’t be a problem in the physical copies. But, when another POV character is introduced, things get extremely confusing. With the way things are written, once the third character comes into play, I actually had to reread the previous three chapters to understand what was happening.
The spying and romance could have been interesting, but all the problems mentioned above contribute to making this a rather tiring and angering read. It’s so very difficult to care about what’s going on when there’s blatant racism and misogyny every other chapter, staring you right in the face. So in the end, The Traitor’s Kiss is a very hard no from me.