Book Review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Posted December 24, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

The Heart of Betrayal

The Heart of Betrayal

by Mary E. Pearson

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. on July 7, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

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.


Technically speaking, The Heart of Betrayal is just fine as a book.  It’s a bit slower as an overall story because there’s a lot of political intrigue going on, and you have to take the time to get to know yet another new kingdom.  There’s a lot of history and culture woven together in this world, and you can see the care Mary E. Pearson has taken with the world building.  It’s multi-layered and very different from the kingdoms we saw in The Kiss of Deception.

A lot of the stuff that I liked in The Kiss of Deception had changed, though.  Character relationships were different, and Lia has grown.  The way she approaches the world is a little different now and she stumbles less frequently.  There was a good amount of quick, mindless acts of violence by some of the other characters in this book.  From a character and world perspective, these things made sense, but they were bloody and cruel.

This story is carrying forward its natural, expected course.  Even though the pacing was slow in The Heart of Betrayal, it’s easy to see in the early chapters why Pearson brought us here and how it is significant.  People who like the romance aspects and the building political tension will enjoy this book more than the first on in the series.

For me, it simply didn’t shine the way The Kiss of Deception did.  While Lia’s character growth is to be expected (nobody wants a stagnant protagonist), she’s developing into the exact, same kind of heroine as every other YA fantasy – her wit is sharper, she lies easily, she and she gets away with almost everything.  Every skill she possesses that feels a bit excessive for the type of princess she claims to be, she waves away with a flick of her wrist and explains she learned it from her brothers..  Plus, there are far too many instances, for me, when Lia needs to be rescued.  Not because she’s helpless, but because the men around her instantly jump to the rescue – sometimes to ridiculous lengths.  This book just blended into the genre for me, offering nothing particularly exciting or original to keep me hanging on every word.  It’s a YA fantasy with a female protagonist who isn’t going to let someone else drive her future.  It’s done well.  If that’s the type of book you want to read, you’re going to like it.  Period.

I won’t let it affect my overall rating too much (“Personal Enjoyment” is just one factor of seven I rate on fiction audiobooks) but I was bored by this book.  The twists were expected.  The romance was cliche.  The traits that drew me to like Lia in The Kiss of Deception were no longer present – she’d grown out of them.  While there are still some setbacks and stumbles, there’s not enough to persuade me to continue this series because I know the ultimate ending already.

That said, for young readers who are not as widely read in YA fantasy and less likely to sense the foreshadowing and predicts turns, this will be an enjoyable book.  It’s less obtrusive, I think, than many other YA fantasies and the vast world building is well done in such a way that the reader picks it up nugget by nugget.  There’s very little swordplay and more political maneuvering.  The romance, as well, is more in heart song than in abusive language and fiery kisses, which makes it lean more to romance and less toward lusty undertones.  I’d still recommend The Heart of Betrayal to the right reader!  I think it just wasn’t for me, and it’s perfectly fine, I’m not the intended audience.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★
Plot: ★★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★ 1/2

three and a half star rating


Have you read this series?  If so, did you enjoy it?  Did you finish the trilogy, and would you say I’m missing out by not picking up book three?  Change my mind in the comments!

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