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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers can compare this to the legends of King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin, and Camelot. Start with The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White. Also touches on the challenges of building a safe, prosperous, and more sanitary society in medieval times.
Ruling justly requires sacrifices. A fair and safe society is chosen over the power-thirsty chaos of a magically ruled one. Like most Arthur legends told, duty, loyalty, and bravery all shine.
Positive Role Models
This Guinevere is much stronger than the one of myth and legend. She's brave and determined, yet she still doesn't know how to use her strength. She battles with her two roles: magical protector and dutiful queen. It feels like she's settled for less than she needs by the end, from her life and from her relationship with Arthur.
Violence & Scariness
Most of the violence comes from magically controlled animals and trees. Wolves and a boar attack, a spider bite is nearly fatal, and tree roots squeeze the life out of knights and horses. Arrows also kill a few bad guys and a kidnapping includes a rough interrogation with the threat of death. Stories of a woman impaled on a charging stag, a village devoured by trees controlled by evil forces, and a man who took two daughters from a village, raped them, and "discarded" them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing, and lots of talk and innuendo around Camelot about Guinevere and Arthur's sex life (which is nonexistent). A lesbian relationship. Talk of menstruation and why women menstruate.
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"S--t" in a few humorous connotations (a street that used to be running with sewage, and the name of a chicken). Plus "damn" and "ass" rarely.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Guinevere, 16, and Arthur, 18, drink wine at her wedding and watered wine alone together. Some celebratory drinking to drunkenness (wine, ale) by knights and townsfolk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Guinevere Deception is the first book in the Camelot Rising trilogy by Kiersten White, author of the And I Darken trilogy, Illusions of Fate, and The Chaos of Stars. Readers who are not as familiar with Arthurian legend will learn a bit here about Camelot, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table. Guinevere is imagined as more of central figure here, not just a fair maiden but Merlin's magic-wielding daughter sent to protect Arthur. And, sure enough, the worst of the violence here comes from magically controlled animals and trees. Wolves and a boar attack, a spider bite is nearly fatal, and tree roots squeeze the life out of knights and horses. Arrows also kill a few bad guys and a kidnapping includes a rough interrogation with the threat of death. Expect some straight kissing and innuendo and talk of an LGBTQ relationship. Guinevere (16) and Arthur (18) both drink wine, and other knights and villagers overindulge in celebration. Language includes "s--t," "ass," and "damn." While Guinevere still hasn't discovered her true strength by the end of The Guinevere Deception, she's brave and determined, and her husband, Arthur, sacrifices much to rule Camelot and protect his people.
Is It Any Good?
Though the plot meanders, this reimagining of Guinevere's role in Camelot still intrigues with dark magic, a forbidden romance, and mystery. Guinevere is an enigma even to herself. She doesn't know her old name, who her mother was, or how involved Merlin was in her life before. And she can't trace her extreme fear of water to a trauma from her nebulous past. This mystery doesn't always build smoothly in The Guinevere Deception, and neither does Guinevere's understanding of her role in Camelot and what she really wants it to be, but the story still draws the reader along as Guinevere learns what it takes to both be queen and protect Camelot.
Like the original legend, a love triangle ensues. But it doesn't include Lancelot this time -- the knight is a totally new surprise for readers we won't spoil here. Here's hoping more curious surprises are in store for the rest of the trilogy.
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.