Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Well color me impressed!
I crossed paths with Jennifer Anne Davis' work a couple of years ago, when I binge read her True Reign series and loved it to pieces, so I dived into Cage of Deceit with particularly high expectations, which were thankfully met. If you have a taste for riveting YA fantasy laced with politics, war and toe-curling romance, Jennifer Anne Davis is ideal to indulge your craving!
“War was coming. Those she loved would die. She had to protect her family and her people.”
An absolute page turner, Cage of Deceit follows the life of princess Alyssa, the daughter of Rema and Darmik (the main characters of True Reign trilogy), and her struggles to be the perfect heiress everyone needs, while the court is nothing but a cage that suffocates her. Her only way out are her nightly escapades, when she hunts criminals along with a friend who is unaware of her identity. Her routine, though, is about to be disturbed, when a neighbouring kingdom decides to declare war on her homeland and wreck havoc to everyone in between. The only way to secure an army capable of defeating the threat is for her to wed prince Odar, who is too arrogant and self-absorved for her liking, while his squire Jarvik keeps a close eye on Alyssa, all too eager to find her dirty secrets and prevent this marriage from happening. Will Alyssa be able to fulfill her duty to her kingdom and her people, without sacrificing pieces of herself in the process?
“I'm afraid you're locked in this cage of deceit with me. When you break free, you're going to hate me.”
The first thing you need to know about Reign of Secrets is that you don't have to read True Reign in order to understand it. Cage of Deceit takes place about 20 years after the events of War, and while the appearance of Rema, Darmik and their friends is rather frequent, they won't affect your comprehension of the story. Cage of Deceit is the introduction to a thrilling saga woven with threads of deception, secrets, politics and war, featuring a hate-to-love relationship that makes your skin tingle, strong friendships and the everlasting battle between the prosperity of one's kingdom against what the heart desires. Alongside Alyssa you navigate balls and and then shady taverns, you spar until your clothes are drenched with sweat, you hold court and strive to lead two different lives, one full of expectations, locked in a cage made to shield you from the outside world, and one full of adrenaline, danger and disguise. But when those two lives collide, you can't help but hold your breath and witness the conspiracies that unfold before your eyes without being able to stop them.
“I'm going to rule an empire. I need more than a pretty face by my side. I want a man who's intelligent and determined.”
Alyssa is a strong -albeit overly hotheaded- heroine that makes you root for her. While at times I thought she was a little too selfish, considering the precarious position of her kingdom, and entitled, she grew on me and matured throughout the story, sorting through her priorities and realising what it takes to be a fair ruler. I loved the way her relationship with her parents, her friends and Jarvik was depicted, they combined tenderness with humour, they were simply adorable. Jarvik was at first difficult to like, but he soon became a reliable (and, to be honest, swoonworthy) character that won my affection. And let's just say that Rema and Darmik re-awakened all the butterflies in my stomach!
While I loved Cage of Deceit, I didn't give the fifth star for two reasons: the high rate of predictability (I saw that final plot twist coming miles away, and I am fairly certain that I know the big revelation that will take place in the next instalments), and the way the chapters alternated; sometimes the final lines of the chapters felt, well, clumsy, and they were only loosely connected with the beginning of the next.
“She was a princess, elegant, refined, and all that the position implied. At least, that was she kept telling herself. Because, truth be told, she hated being stuck in this cage, playing this game.”
Jennifer Anne Davis spun a gripping tale I finished in one sitting, and I'm off to devour Cage of Darkness without further delay!