Review: Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty

Friday, April 28, 2017
Title: The Traitor's Kiss
Author: Erin Beaty
Genre: fantasy
Series: Traitor's Trilogy #1
Pages: 352
Published: expected May 9 2017
Source: ARC via publishers
Rating: 3/5

An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

Debut author Erin Beaty's The Traitor's Kiss is a pretty decent fantasy for YA. It's a broadly-drawn fantasy romance that ties together marriage contracts and military maneuvers! Admittedly some of the novel can fall a bit flat - especially in the introduction - and the pacing can become more of an issue as the story progresses. There are some high-stakes fun and entertaining moments to Sage's story, but it's also one flawed in its premise, execution, and characterization. Very much a debut novel, this first in a planned trilogy reads like a mashup of Mulan and The Winner's Curse - but with some problematic elements and some original plot-trickery all its own.

The characters in the pages of The Traitor's Kiss are.. interesting. Some are likeable, some are confusing, and some are rather ill-defined; most secondary (i.e. non love interest) characters feel rather underdeveloped. As the main, Sage receives the bulk of the novel's focus and is the most dimensional person. She both defies and fulfills expected roles for women in fantasy. She subverts genre tropes and also follows them. Her worth is tied to marriage prospects but her keen eye for detail and tactics help the military in key situations. Sage is not always nice and has some troublesome characteristics, but she's an engaging character because she is flawed and realistic.

I had conflicting emotions about The Traitor's Kiss as I read my way into it. At times the ship and the spying fun and plot creativity made me feel around 4-stars-worth of enjoyment. But the technical issues encountered in the writing and the appropriative nature of the plot tempered my feelings to.... 3ish? There are some racial undertones that require dissection and discussion, as well as the fact that this definitely seems to be a white-washed Mulan. There's also some harmful tropes to be found in how Sage regards other girls -- especially ones who happen to like being feminine. Sage befriends at least one girl over the course, but a novel cannot boast a "strong" heroine if its at the expense of every other female character in the novel.

Some of the plotting is good and some of it is less so, but the author is clever, I will give her that. The worldbuilding is shallow and often lazy -- there's no real sense of time, place or history to Demora. The writing has issues with clarity -- often at key plot points which is distracting and can make the "reveal" of what happened hard to understand. There are some slight Jane Austen similarities here but The Traitor's Kiss is much more along the lines of a romance/fantasy than a mix of magic and Regency.


  1. The cover is a beauty but I'm not sure this is the fantasy read for me -- especially if more romance. I also can't stand lazy worldbuilding. It makes me sad just thinking about the novels potential, ya know?

    1. I know that exact feeling. I mean if you're going to do a Mulan retelling... DO A REAL MULAN RETELLING. Argh.

  2. This book didn't work for me at all! It has so much hype surrounding it and I was so sure I was going to love it, and then it really disappointed. -_- I thought there was a lot of problematic content as well. :/ If you read the rest of the series, I hope you enjoy it!

    Have a fantastic week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I hate when hype makes disappointment even worse. Such a bummer. I hope your next read is better, Alyssa!


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