“I said he couldn’t burn me. I still believed that. If I was going to go up in flames, it would be my own doing.” —Kiera Cass, The Betrothed
The Betrothed by Kiera Cass is a sleeper book. A dark horse. This book will creep up on you. It’s one of those books that needs to be read with a fine-toothed comb to hunt for all those details that you know will come into play later. The key to The Betrothed is in all the details and because this is a tale of a king and his court… nothing is as it seems.
The Betrothed is nothing like Kiera Cass’ famous Selection series. I devoured The Betrothed! I know most YA readers are older than the YA age group, but this book deserves your full attention, as well as an open mind. It’s a fantastic book for character studies.
Hollis Brite is naïve as characters go, she looks for the good in everyone, and her full-bodied enjoyment of life is something that King Jameson admires, enjoys, and rewards by giving her attention as well as courtly favor. Her best friend, Delia Grace, is her lady in waiting but her actions are as sneaky as a snake in the grass. Hollis’ parents are also characters that do their best to try to tame the wild and effervescence that Hollis possesses…usually to no avail since Hollis uses the King’s favor to her advantage. Readers need to keep in mind that Hollis was kept in a bubble-like reality with the sole purpose in life to win favor with the King and to keep her parents place in the King’s Court.
Hollis’ illusion of a happy life all begins to lose its luster when a refuge family from the neighboring kingdom of Isolte visits. This visit is quickly followed by a diplomatic entourage composed of the King of Isolte himself, and his Queen, Valentina. After befriending the refugee family and Queen Valentina, Hollis begins to realize that a marriage to King Jameson will result in her being an ornament to the King and nothing more. Is a life of wealth and leisure worth it if she has to give up her autonomy, her potential future children, and her free will?
“In the end, we made enemies with our heads, but we unmade them with our hearts.”—Kiera Cass, The Betrothed
While I’ve seen many complaints about how quickly Hollis’ feelings for Silas develop. I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is also a Royal Court romance and fast-paced is the name of the game. How quickly one can fall, makes it just as easy for one to get burned. In Hollis’ case, she saves herself from being consumed by the King’s attention before it’s too late to escape. I loved that Hollis was able to find a friend, and love in Silas while she came to the realization that she needed to look out for herself.
In a maddening twist at the very end of the book, Hollis’ world is turned upside down. The entire illusion of the book is broken. The spell the readers have been under is finally broken as well. The kingdoms of Coroa and Isolte are not all what they seem. There is so much more to come, and all those little details that were sprinkled throughout The Betrothed will now come into play in The Betrayed. Even all the characters that were awful to Hollis throughout the book can be looked at in a different light by the end, because you start to question their motives. Why are her parents so concerned about being in favor with the King? What would cause King Jameson to invite the King of Isolte into his country if he’s such a wicked and awful king?
The Betrothed is rife with courtly intrigue. If you’re a fan of any kind of Royal story, then you understand that to be at a Royal Court is to play a deadly game of chess. During most of The Betrothed, Hollis was playing the game blindly naïve. By the end, her blindfold is off. I absolutely cannot wait for more, so stay tuned! The Betrayed will release in summer of 2021!