{Review} DANCE OF THIEVES by Mary E. Pearson

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    THE GHOSTS ARE still here.
    The words lingered in the air, each one a shimmering spirit, cold whispers of caution, but I wasn't afraid. I already knew.
    The ghosts, they never go away. They call to you in unexpected moments, their hands lacing with yours and pulling you down paths that lead nowhere. This way. I had learned to mostly shut them out.  

“Seconds mattered. Seconds could change everything. Seconds could erase one path and send you reeling down another.” 


With VOW OF THIEVES, the second book in the companion series to the initial debut trilogy set in the world of The Remnant Chronicles, out this week, I've dedicated the whole week to this fantastic series! I began with an updated review of the first book in the original trilogy, THE KISS OF DECEPTION, continued with a review of the prequel e-novella, MORRIGHAN, and did an original post on tour with Macmillan Fierce Reads centered around the myth and lore in the world of the Remnant Chronicles. Today, I review the first books in the brand-new spin-off duology that ties into the original trilogy, set six years later with new characters -- though we do so see some familiar faces from time to time! I just spent the last week or so re-reading the entire series, which I haven't done in a while. I've been itching for a re-read, too, and the timing felt perfect. And, honestly? I never had time to do my re-read last year and put it off and put it off, and even though DANCE OF THIEVES was one of my most-anticipated books of the year -- and even though I've had an advance copy of VOW OF THIEVES for a while, it has only been late July/August that I've been able to pick up DANCE OF THIEVES. I'm reading VOW OF THIEVES right now and can't wait to wrap up my thoughts on this series for you next week!

I will say that, if you're new to the series and it feels daunting, you don't necessarily need to read the original trilogy beginning with KISS OF DECEPTION in order to read the new duology. (It's kind of like the debate as to whether you should read SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo before diving into SIX OF CROWS.) The main characters, Kazi and Jase, are new to the series and involved in their own story and happenings. At the same time, the two only meet because Kazi is on a mission passed down from the main character of the original series, Lia, who readers don't meet until close to the end of DANCE OF THIEVES. There are a few mentions to a big war that happened in the original trilogy that shaped the world as it is now, six years later. It spoils the outcome of the final book if you are planning to eventually read the original trilogy. Which is also awesome if you are a long-time reader of the series, because it catches you up on where characters are now, especially after the open ending of the finale. We even find out a little about minor characters from the series! Knowing the original series is helpful when certain elements are mentioned, such as a secret message Kazi sends out that has very specific wording that nobody outside her country would know about. But is it necessary? I think you could still read this on its own, but this is one series where I think the flavor of the world only grows when you know its entire background, which is why I always recommend the amazing e-novella MORRIGHAN as well. It's sent many generations ago as the world of the Remnant is developing and shapes so much foundation for the series to come!

I will try, at least, to keep this review completely spoiler-free from revealing anything that could spoil the original trilogy for you and just talk about the story itself!

After the war that the original trilogy led up to, the world has changed a lot and will never be quite the same. There has been a lot more power struggle between the Kingdoms, and some of the traitors who orchestrated the original war have gone into hiding. The most wanted criminal of all has finally (supposedly) been spotted, and Kazimyrah and her colleagues set out to find out if this is true. Kazi has a reputation for being the very best of thieves -- the fact that she still has all ten of her fingers being proof she has never been caught. If anyone can find out the truth and bring home a wanted war criminal, it's her. Upon arriving at the Ballenger Estate, she is to find a way into Tor's Watch. Her plans are thwarted when she finds out that the Patrei has died, and his son is now in charge. This would make finding her way into Tor's Watch harder, but both Kazi and Jase are abducted to be sold into the human slave market. They manage to escape and must find their way back shackled at the ankles. This forces the two to bond and tentatively develop feelings for one another, so when they arrive back on Ballenger land, she is brought into the Inner Circle faster than she ever expected to be. From here, Kazi plays a dangerous game as she attempts to uncover whether or not the family she is beginning to love and appreciate could ever be involved in something so insidious as harboring a war criminal -- and the betrayal she must rise up to should that be true.

And there's SO much more going on than just that, but I don't want to give out a lot of spoilers. There's a bit of mystery and intrigue, and that was the fun in continuing to see where the story would take us! I also loved both of our main characters. I would turn each page, hoping that Jase couldn't possibly be involved in anything nefarious and wanting a happily ever after for these two. I also remembered the way Pearson likes to make relationships more true to life and characters have to go through so much and so I wasn't sure what these two were about to be put through, which kept me reading and turning pages! I really loved the large, close-knit Ballenger family. They are a force unto themselves, and so absolutely intriguing. And their history! If you saw my post yesterday on the myth and lore of this world, you'll know just how fascinated I am with the past that formed the Remnant. I've also mentioned in every review from the original series as I read each book and fawned all over MORRIGHAN when we got a prequel novella. The Ballengers add more to this history and expand the past and what could have happened even more. I really want a prequel novella featuring this past as well now (I'm super greedy, I know).

I really like where the first book ends and how everything comes together, and I'm so glad that I don't have to wait to pick up the sequel because I'm not ready to say goodbye to this world I love so much just yet. And with so many Kingdoms and histories, maybe there will be more spin-offs to come. One can only hope!

(Back when only THE KISS OF DECEPTION was out!)!

And remember....

VOW OF THIEVES is available now at retailers everywhere!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( kissing. A character passes a couple heavily making out behind a tree, but nothing graphic is seen. Some light innuendo that younger readers won't pick up on in the turn of phrase, such as knowing what's on his mind but never feeling pressured, etc.  )
Language: PG13 ( bastard, crapcake, damn/dammit, helluva, SOB. Innuendo about how a character may have run his hands all over another's body.  Allusions to why Kazi's mother mau have been stolen and sold. )
Violence: PG13 ( A character cuts off another's ear; another is given the ears. A dog bites someone's ankle to the bone, though the attack is off-page. A character is killed with a knife to the throat. A carriage is attacked and characters are killed. A passage from the past about protecting a fortress from Scavengers with deadly pikes. A character is carried off by a huge bird-like creature and screams are heard.
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

It's so pretty in person! I love all the etching and the simple elegance of it. I would pick this up blind in the store to see what it was about; it would absolutely call to me!

Knowing the story, I love that the cover features a very revered plant, and the wings are mentioned as well, and that captivating sword, and just~!!!

And oh my, the spine beneath the jacket! My finished copy of VOW OF THIEVES came in the mail just last night, so I want to do an Instagram post this weekend. I'll update with a picture here. Sheer beauty!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Mary E. Pearson
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt // Macmillan
Received: Purchased
(I possibly had an e-ARC last year, but it would be long expired. I read my purchased finished copy for review purposes)

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty's resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.