Book Review

Dance of Thieves_FINAL 9.18Spoiler Free Review
Title: Dance of Thieves
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Series or Standalone: Dance of Thieves, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publication Date: August 7th 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Dance of Thieves is an entertaining new fantasy romance novel, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives. Set in the same world as the Remnant Chronicles series, Dance of Thieves is the first book in Mary E. Pearson’s spin-off duology that takes place eight years after the end of the Remnant Chronicles trilogy.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions. 

I’m well aware that I’m a year late to this book, but honestly I’m so excited that I have to wait less than a week for the sequel, because Dance of Thieves ended on a brilliant cliffhanger that has me itching to pick up the sequel ASAP! Honestly, it was very well worth the wait.

“You appear to have a lot of hidden sides to you—juggling, telling riddles, taking down boys and threatening to cut their pretty necks.”

Kazi is very much the pinnacle of YA heroines that I enjoy reading about. Incredibly shrewd and calculating (the makings of a great Slytherin, yes?), Kazi lives to serve the Queen of Venda after she made her Rahtan, a member of the Queen’s premier guard. Before Kazi’s life as one of the Queen’s soldiers, she was orphaned and an invisible street rat, who became a petty thief in order to survive.

“Since I lost my mother, I had seen family as only a liability. Even growing close to Wren and Synové seemed like a terrible risk. The world was so much safer when you only had yourself to lose.”

After witnessing her mother being stolen, Kazi shut herself off to most people. We largely see this play out through her relationship with Jase, whom she constantly goes back and forth with trusting. Personally as a reader who avidly enjoys romance, I enjoyed this and found Kazi’s relationship with Jase rewarding. Although there are definitely aspects of miscommunication that is easily the result of some of their frustrations.

I was slightly forgiving of this, because their distrust for one another often made sense. There are a lot of consequences as a result of them being together, because Kazi has a duty to the Queen and Jase to his family. Their duties often conflict with one another throughout the story, and I loved the tension it created for these characters.

We also get Jase’s perspective, and his chapters were equally enjoyable to read as they were to swoon for. His ascension as patriarch to the Ballenger empire involved some great family dynamics and political intrigue. As a love interest, he definitely teeters towards being a ‘bad boy,’ to put it simply, although he isn’t overwhelmingly one. He made me very reminiscent of Rafe from the first Remnant Chronicles trilogy.

Not surprisingly, I thought that this first book differed greatly from The Kiss of Deception in several ways. Firstly, Ms. Pearson’s writing feels so much more seasoned here. With every page I read, I felt that the author not only understood, but cared for the world, characters and mythology that she has crafted for her fantasy universe.

Secondly, this series already feels like it has much more of a distinct plot and direction than The Kiss of Deception had. As much as I love that book, I can admit it was largely romance driven and the plot really prioritized the love triangle. Whilst I personally don’t mind stories that are romance driven, I know there are many fantasy readers that prefer their stories not to be overshadowed by it either.

Whilst this series already feels like it has a much stronger beginning, it should be said this book isn’t without romance. Mary E. Pearson is in her element writing a quintessential young adult, fantasy romance. Dance of Thieves finds a good balance between plot and romance, but definitely expect the scales to be tipped towards the romance.

“Who made you afraid of an open world? An open sky? Was it Venda? Your parents?”
“No one did anything,” I answered quietly.
“Then hold on to me,” he said. “Let me show you the stars.”

Kazi and Jase’s relationship begins very distinctly as an enemies to lovers one. People who enjoy this trope will be happy to hear that the blurb holds true and Ms. Pearson really does bring these characters ‘intimately together.’ They are literally handcuffed together and forced to flee the labour hunters that stole and and survive in the wilderness together, whilst still being chained together. Honestly it’s kind of a dream for someone who loves enemies to lovers, because well, forced proximity.

“He might be one kind of person out here, but back there, he was the enemy, the lawless head of a lawless family—a family that possibly harbored a murderous war criminal who was a threat to the entire continent, and if they did, he and his family would pay.”

However, the enemies to lovers dynamic doesn’t last as nearly as long as it should and the romance feels a bit too… sudden. I definitely felt a bit of a missed opportunity here, I wish the enemies to lovers dynamic was drawn out a bit more and made to feel a bit more like a slow burn romance. Unfortunately their romance felt a bit insta-lovey, however I still enjoyed the back and forth between them and the author throws a good amount of conflict and their trust gradually grows authentically.

Last, but maybe most importantly – is it necessary to read the The Kiss of Deception trilogy? If you really don’t want to, then I don’t think you have to. Personally, it’s been a few years since I read the series and so my own memory regarding that series has faded, yet I enjoyed this book. However if you do want to read that series, I’d highly recommend it as a starting point. There are old characters that make an appearance, which won’t be as satisfying for those who haven’t read their story in the original trilogy.

Let me know in the comments whether you have read anything from The Remnant Chronicles universe. I’d love to hear what you think of Mary E. Pearson’s world and characters!post headers (1)

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