Genre: Fantasy (retelling) Age Range: YA Star Rating: Series: Yes - first book in trilogy
There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.
Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I buddy read this with a friend over the course of one day. We were messaging back and forth with theories (some right, some wrong, some still unanswered). As we both know the Arthur cannon well, it was a lot of fun to theorise about how certain elements came in. This is a book I full recommend reading with a friend for the theorising.
It’s a unique take on the story, and I really liked that Arthur knew about the deception, because it means that there isn’t a power imbalance in their relationship. Any relationship development between them, therefore, is healthy, as they both know she isn’t the real Guinevere (the number of times I’ve spelt that wrong!) Plus it means she has someone she can trust with her secrets.
The knot magic is so much fun – and with such clear consequences. I love magic without boundaries so that it doesn’t feel like a caster can do anything.
The beginning was a little slow, and the writing felt a bit young so I thought it was going to be Lower YA. After a few chapters, the writing felt older and stronger, and the plot picks up after about five chapters, but I was a little worried about it being a disappointment at the start. However, I kept going and found myself really enjoying it.
This is based on Arthurian legend, so anyone with even the slightest of knowledge of the body of mythology knows about a certain character’s “badness”. I found it very interesting that this character was portrayed as good and loyal to Arthur, and I liked that. I was expecting a slow turn to bad across the trilogy as he became disillusioned – a powerful arc based on Arthur being human and making mistakes.
However, that didn’t happen, and he was just hat-change evil at the last moment. There was no set up and, because I knew he’s cannonically bad, it wasn’t an emotional surprise and lacked weight. It felt as if it was a “plot twist” relying on people knowing that this is cannon, so just accepting it.
It’s two small niggles, hence the missing half star, but overall I really loved this book and I’m excited for the next entry this November.
Read my reviews of other books by Kiersten White:
Camelot Rising (this series):
- THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL (#2)