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Young Adult Fiction 3371
The Guinevere Deception
(Updated: March 21, 2020)
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THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION by Kiersten White is the first book in a YA retelling of the classic Arthurian legend. Guinevere, a magical being, is sent to Camelot by Merlin, after he himself is banished from there. Her main priority is to protect Arthur from a looming threat, but even she doesn’t know what the danger is or from where it will come. While preparing for all the dark possibilities, Guinevere struggles with more than her otherworldly prowess. She is happy to be Arthur’s protector, but part of her wants to be more than that. However, it’s impossible to spend enough time with the King to explore those feelings, and beyond that, she craves an identity that isn’t wrapped up in his. As Guinevere figures out who she’s going to be in this new world, she realizes one confronting truth. She would die for Arthur.

As a major fan of any story regarding the Knights of the Roundtable, I was not disappointed with this book. White’s spin on Guinevere’s origins is pretty refreshing, as is some of the gender bending she does later on. I also, to my own shock, love Mordred in this version. In fact, he is perhaps the most compelling character in the entire book. He’s both an intellectual and a warrior. He’s a cynic and a lover. He’s good and bad, and I can’t wait to see where White takes him next. There are also some other familiar characters who make appearances too, such as Sir Tristan, Brangien, and of course, Lancelot. However, I would have liked to see them and others a bit more. For example, Sir Gawain, one of my favorite Knights, is barely in the book at all. Though I know this story is primarily about Guinevere’s experience, I’m hoping the Knights will have a bigger role in the sequels.

In terms of pacing, this book starts off very slow. It took multiple attempts for me to get past the first thirty pages, but once I did and understood the basic premise, I was hooked. White could have been more obvious about who Guinevere really was from the first page, which would have brought in more palpable tension from the beginning, perhaps propelling the plot forward. I also found Guinevere’s fear of water to be contrived. I wanted to be scared with her, but instead, I often found myself disconnected.

With that being said, my favorite elements of this retelling are the updated love triangle, the use of knot magic, and the mystery of the Patchwork Knight. I can’t wait to see how White weaves this tale in the coming books and I’m hoping she has a few new twists up her sleeve. Overall, THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION is the best Arthurian legend retelling I’ve seen in quite some time.
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