A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Romantic fantasy meant to entertain.
People aren't that different from one another, and someone you think will be an enemy could become a good friend if you have an open mind and empathy. It's better to move forward into the unknown than to step back into what's familiar. Listen to your heart and trust your instincts. When you've lost a loved one, you can only take things one at a time, one day at a time, and hope that even if the pain never goes away, living with it will get easier in time.
Positive Role Models
Hollis is a good role model for empathy, integrity, and communication. She's open to other people and ideas, and is able to put herself in others' shoes in order to understand them better. She shares openly and honestly, doesn't trade in secrets, and keeps her word. She's also a very good and loyal friend. The only real villain is a minor character, the evil ruler of a neighboring kingdom. Some people are hard to get along with; but even that becomes easier with a little understanding.
Violence & Scariness
Nothing is directly narrated, but a violent attack is implied from hearing screams, mentioning dead bodies, the smell of blood and fire, and post-traumatic symptoms. Important characters die, and dealing with grief is a theme.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses without much detail. Feelings of romance and attraction. A character reveals she's had multiple miscarriages.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking mead in the past remembered. Ale at social occasions, one character acts tipsy once. Hollis chugs a tankard of ale once when she's emotionally stressed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Betrothed is a romance set in an imagined world by veteran author Kiera Cass (The Selection series). The romance is confined to describing feelings and a few kisses without a lot of detail. There's some implied, "off screen" violence from sounds and the aftermath of an attack with no direct descriptions, but the aftermath is described without much detail and no gore. Important characters die, so grief and loss are strong themes, mainly toward the end. One character mentions she's had multiple miscarriages. Ale and mead are mentioned at social occasions, one character acts tipsy once, and main-character Hollis drinks a tankard of ale quickly once when she's under stress. Hollis is a positive role model of empathy, integrity, honest communication, and strong bonds of friendship.
Is It Any Good?
Readers who love to devour all things romantic and royal will enjoy this serving from Kiera Cass, author of the popular The Selection series. There's the handsome, perfect-boyfriend king, the equally handsome mysterious newcomer, and in the middle of it all The Betrothed herself, likable Hollis, who wants to be more than someone's arm candy and who isn't afraid to be herself at all times. The story is predictable, although not always a straight, smooth path; tragedy and heartbreak are part of the bargain.
There's not much here to tempt readers who aren't already romance fans, or who aren't ready to find out if they are or not. The world is well realized but not particularly imaginative. Lots of characters are cliches or types, and most of what you think will happen is what in fact happens. The open ending will leave fans hoping for another installment. But if you love the thrill of a stolen kiss and the swoosh of an elaborate gown, this is a fine choice that delivers on those counts.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.