The Heart of Betrayal
By: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Personal Age Rating: 14+
Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia’s life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.
Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There’s Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.
“The rules of reason build towers that reach past the treetops. The rules of trust build towers that reach past the stars.”
The Heart of Betrayal is the exciting sequel to The Kiss of Deception, the first book in a young adult fantasy series that took the book community by storm last year. I read The Kiss of Deception this past summer and immensely enjoyed it, but did not pick up the sequel until now, and I am so glad I finally did.
This book elevates the intensity of the series to an entirely new level. The stakes are set incredibly high now that Lia and Rafe have been taken captive by the Vendans, and Lia must make sacrifices she never imagined possible. Because of this, The Heart of Betrayal takes on a tangible intensity that its predecessor lacked. This book is better than the first in almost every aspect: Extensive world-building, a more intriguing and all-encompassing plot, difficult choices that result in character development, and of course, unforeseen and bitter betrayal. Although the first book was by no means “lighthearted”, it certainly would be considered so compared to The Heart of Betrayal.
What I loved about this sequel was that it addressed all the things I wished for in my review for The Kiss of Deception. Let’s take a look back at my review this past July:
My only complaint about this book would be that the the plot is a bit weighted down by the love triangle. I have no problem with love triangles; I just feel that this story has so much potential to be solely focused on the love triangle. I am hoping that the next book allows a bit more world-building and character development, because the characters and world are already so rich and interesting.
A less prominent romance (focus on the plot), more character development, and fleshing out the wonderful fantasy world Ms. Pearson had created? This book gave all these things and more. I will discuss the romance in the spoilery section, but for now I will say that the romance took the backseat to the plot this time around, even becoming relevant and necessary to drive the plot itself. We were able to see Lia develop as a character, but yet there is still room for development in the last book. She is perceptive, intelligent, and strong-willed, but yet still compassionate and loving. We were able to learn Kaden’s backstory, which definitely makes you understand his behavior and even causes you sympathize with him. The only character we see little development from is Rafe, but I am expecting that in the next book. He got more time in the spotlight in The Kiss of Deception, anyway. And then we get to explore the supposedly savage kingdom of Venda, which is incredibly interesting and drenched with culture and history.
The last thing I will say in the “non-spoilery” section of this review that the history of the kingdoms weaves together in an interesting way throughout this novel. Lia comes to several realizations and it is fun to piece together the information as she does.
My only complaint about this book is that it had a tendency to be a bit slow, unlike its predecessor. I think the book could have included a lot more action or been much shorter, but it was still a fantastic book either way.
Overall, I highly recommend this series, it just continues to get better and better! Please do not read below unless you want to be spoiled or have already read The Heart of Betrayal!