{Review} VOW OF THIEVES by Mary E. Pearson

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    THE YOUNGEST ONES ask me questions. 
    They want to know about the world Before. 
    I am the oldest. I should know. 
    Did you fly, Greyson? In the sky like a bird? 
    Yes. With my grandfather. 
    I wasn't sure. I was only five, but I remember looking down, watching the ground disappear, my grandfather weeping as he held me in his arms. 
    I never saw him weep again. 
    After the first star fell, six more followed. 
    There was no time for weeing after that, or explaining things like flying. 
    There was only time for running. 
    Tai and Uella crawl into my lap. 
    Will you teach us to fly? 
    No. I will teach you other things. 
    Things that will keep you alive.

“I guess that's how good thieves keep all their fingers. They slip into the cracks. They find shadows. They make a new plan when the last one utterly fails.” 


What a powerful end to a captivating duology! VOW OF THIEVES had everything I ever wanted and more. I loved the first book in Mary E. Pearson's original trilogy, THE KISS OF DECEPTION, and was even enamored in ways I didn't think possible with the e-novella MORRIGHAN. DANCE OF THIEVES was one of my Most Wanted Books of 2018, and it was devastating when I didn't have a chance to read it right away. Then, I thankfully made the decision to wait and do a series re-read this year when VOW OF THIEVES released. I am patting myself on the back, because it was absolutely the right call. I still have a book hangover, and I also had one the first time I read KISS OF DECEPTION that took nine books to get out of. We'll see how long this one takes me!

These books are so intricate, and only get better and better. Pearson has created a world readers become truly invested in, romances to care about, wars where the outcome is everything. The stakes are so high in each of these series, and I never fully caught my breath until the end. I'm very happy with how everything came together. I'm really pleased with the cameos from the first series in this new one, because the original trilogy ended openly and I wanted to know all the things. I had all the closure I needed. And these new characters charmed their way into my hearts as well. This duology is darker, fuller, grittier. The first book focuses more on romance, but it is necessary to build the scope of what's at stake in the second book as readers are dropped into non-stop action. And the ending? No spoilers, but be still my heart. I read it a couple of times and I love the speculation at play. It's also perfect, because it could be over for good, or it's just open enough that if a new spin-off caught Pearson's fancy, she could easily go with it.
...And I'm already here for it if she does.

I think part of why I love this story and world so much is that it is so thoroughly built up. In the first series, I loved traditions such as the etching of the wedding kavah on one's back to the way bones are passed and an animal's sacrifice is honored before dinner, I was entranced by all the customs of the different kingdoms. The myth and lore in the world of the Remnant Chronicles kept me entranced. I also loved all the backstory from generations past that led to the building of this world. MORRIGHAN was amazing because it let me see the world in so many new ways, but I still had so many questions. This new duology answers even more questions about the past. The Ballengers are a little older and have a few more memories, though they're still hazy. They also write in a more journal-entry fashion that's less poetic than Gaudrel did. We get more facts and glimpses all the way up to the surprising tidbit at the very end. I would still love to see a prequel novel (or series) as the world generations ago is ending or right after its end, but I'm also satisfied if it never comes to pass because we've been given enough answers to stitch so much together, especially if the books are read back-to-back and small details aren't forgotten.

I'm amazed that I've gotten this far in the review and haven't really talked about the plot or the book itself, but at the same time, it feels right. If you haven't read DANCE OF THIEVES, I can't even talk about it without spoilers, so you should read my review for it instead. And if you have read DANCE OF THIEVES, well, you already know how high the stakes are. If you've read both series, you already know how much grittier this journey has been. The stakes are even higher, and Kazi and Jace and the entire Ballinger family and everyone they know are thrown through the ringer. This sequel is truly action-packed and I struggled to put it down. Thoughts about it consumed me between readings, and continue to consume me days after finishing. I don't want to spoil things for you because I'd rather you have the same experience, you know? One thing I do want to point out is that in this duology, Kazi is able to see Death and the people he shepherds to his realm, though it's more of an aside than it is a major plot point. It's just the right amount of inclusion and added to how interesting everything was! (And it also made me want to re-read His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers, whose books this series could proudly sit next to! Ironically, that series also has a spin-off companion series that launched recently with COURTING DARKNESS!)

I'm glad I took a chance on THE KISS OF DECEPTION when it first came out. Over the years, I've recommended it frequently and thought back on it fondly. Reading it again in 2019, I still loved it, and I loved the new spin-off duology just as much. I'd been afraid I wouldn't. I was scared to start reading, to be honest, and maybe that's why I didn't when I had the chance last year before time ran away from me. I have been truly invested in this world again and again over the course of the series, and think Pearson's writing continues to grow ever-stronger. I can't wait to see what kind of world she brings us next!

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


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( kissing, making out.  A character takes off another's shirt, but there is never anything graphic or described beyond kissing and the sensation of feeling one's breath or scent that don't go any further and drop to the next scene  A scene in the first chapter where someone enters the room naked and a quip is made about taking advantage earlier.)
Language: PG13 ( bastard, asshole, crapcake, damn/dammit, stubborn-ass, bitch.)
Violence: PG13 ( Many character deaths due to war and its aftermath, from decapitations to stabs in the heart, gut, etc. Loyalists are seen hanging in the town square. Bodies are scattered here and there at times. Entire squads are taken down. Blood sprays and bones crunch. There is a  severed head and severed arm in two different scenes. The arm is delivered as a "gift." Innuendo as one character asks, "Pretty good at what?" A female is searched in detain, up the thigh, etc, to see if she is hiding something. )  
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. 6, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt // Macmillan
Received: For Review

Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor's Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor's Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.