My favorite Fridays are Book Review Fridays, and today’s book is particularly interesting!
About the Book
Title: The Betrothed
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: YA Fantasy (ish)
Synopsis: When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.
But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.
I really was not sure what to expect from The Betrothed, and I’m glad of that. I wasn’t disappointed, but I also was not blown away with the story. This story goes to show that I truly am outgrowing YA romances.
Let’s start with the basics. Our protagonist, Hollis, is not someone with whom I would necessarily want to be friends. She’s not terrible, but her personality did get a little boring. On the other hand, I actually liked how much the author emphasized that she is not the smartest girl around. It’s refreshing to have a protagonist who isn’t presented as better than everyone else, especially when she is going to be Queen (or IS SHE? *drama intensifies*). But, in the end, I disagreed with the way that Hollis handled so many situations. That doesn’t necessarily mean that her decisions are wrong, just that I would not have made the same ones. She does have her moments though. She is much better at making friends than I will ever be, and has a bright and fun disposition.
As for the romance aspect…I can’t suspend my belief enough to account for the “romance” the reader is expected to cheer for. It’s so unrealistic, not to mention a bit cliche. In the beginning of the story, the reader is told that King Jameson is essentially one of the best human beings ever, and then after Hollis meets someone she likes better (emotionally), we’re told that he has dastardly plans for the future and doesn’t really care for Hollis at all. He switches from being endlessly loyal to entirely flippant in a matter of pages, and I don’t buy it. As for Silas, the boy who tempts Hollis away from her King, I like him but don’t see how Hollis could actually be in love with him. Obsessed, clearly. Infatuated, probably. Interested, definitely. But in love? Nope. Love is active and requires demonstration, and the few weeks that Hollis and Silas know each other is not long enough. No, I don’t believe in love at first sight to begin with, and this example is not written well enough to convince me.
The setting is written better than the romance. I don’t really care for fantasy stories, but castles are cool, and reading a story set in one is exciting. I enjoyed learning about the culture the mentions of architecture, although I would have liked more detail. The exquisite gowns are a fun addition, too. They add to the atmosphere. By the time I got a few chapters in, I was well established in the world and only occasionally ran into roadbumps. Some of the names were a bit jarring, and shook me out of the fictional world as I tried to figure out how to pronounce them. Other than that, it’s a setting that I wouldn’t mind seeing again.
However, I do have to say, I know that castles are usually “happily ever after” settings, but, the way things work out for Hollis’ friend Delia Grace is just too easy. But, also, I want to know more about her. I actually think her story might be more interesting than Hollis’ story, and I hope that she plays a major roll in later books in this series.
One final thing to mention, is that the ending is odd and I’m not sure that I will ever come to terms with it. There is more action in the last few chapters than the entire rest of the book, and I wasn’t ready for it. Just when I had resigned myself to accept Hollis’ chosen fate (which, I might remind you, I did not agree with), things change dramatically. The ending is just truly odd, and I can’t really say anything about it without major spoilers!
There is a moderately strong message of being true to your beliefs and appreciating the differences of other cultures, but it doesn’t go very deep. It’s an enjoyable enough story, but totally unrealistic. I’m glad that I read this book. If you enjoy typical “love at first sight” YA stories set in a castle with a protagonist who is not too deep, than this may be a great book for you! It has its fair share of strengths and weaknesses, and I am giving it three stars.
Have you read The Betrothed? Or any of Kiera Cass’ other books? How do you think this one compares?
Do you have a favorite castle? Mine is Cair Paravel from The Chronicles of Narnia.
Until the next chapter,