Castle of Lies

Castle of Lies

Thelia isn't in line to inherit the crown, but she's been raised to take power however she can. She's been friends with Princess Corene her whole life, and she's scheming to marry Bayled, the heir to the throne. But her plans must change when an army of elves invades the kingdom. Thelia, her cousin Parsival, and Corene become trapped in the castle. An elf warrior, Sapphire...

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Title:Castle of Lies
Author:Kiersi Burkhart
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Castle of Lies Reviews

  • Petra

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

    After months of putting it off, I finally sat down to write this review. First, let me say how excited I was about this one. I started reading it on the same day I was approved and at first I thought this will be my new favorite book. It had all the things I love: manipulative characters, complicated relationships, court intrigues... and then it became sappy love story? And not an interesting one. I cringed so hard whi

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

    After months of putting it off, I finally sat down to write this review. First, let me say how excited I was about this one. I started reading it on the same day I was approved and at first I thought this will be my new favorite book. It had all the things I love: manipulative characters, complicated relationships, court intrigues... and then it became sappy love story? And not an interesting one. I cringed so hard while reading scenes that were supposed to be erotic and I found that I really didn't care about anyone except maybe Thelia and she just became more and more boring.

    Now, this sounds like I hated the book but all in all I think it was solid read and I will definitely try something else by this author. I wouldn't recommend it to my friends but at the same time I'm not disappointed that I read it. I'm only disappointed that it seemed so promising and different and that it didn't work out for me

  • Dana-Adriana B.

    I found a bit hard to remember all the names and the relationships between the characters. The plot was nice, fantasy - romance.

    Thank you Netgalley for this book.

  • Kaya

    3 stars!

    This author shows a LOT of promise! The idea for this is so unique, and I was shocked by a few of the plot twists. However, while I was surprised by a few, most of the twists left something to be desired. The ending was a bit predictable which was rather disappointing. That said, I was so interested I read this in one sitting!

    I also think that the character development could have been done a bit better. I enjoyed a lot of the characters themselves but never really felt a connection. I lo

    3 stars!

    This author shows a LOT of promise! The idea for this is so unique, and I was shocked by a few of the plot twists. However, while I was surprised by a few, most of the twists left something to be desired. The ending was a bit predictable which was rather disappointing. That said, I was so interested I read this in one sitting!

    I also think that the character development could have been done a bit better. I enjoyed a lot of the characters themselves but never really felt a connection. I loved the world, it was amazing! But the characters didn't quite fit.

    I haven't read many books like this but it shares a tiny bit of similarities to Three Dark Crowns!

    I received an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  • Nemo (The Moonlight Library)

    See original review for GIFs and other images.

    This review is completely spoiler-filled. Please do not read it unless you are prepared to have various aspects, plot points, and characterisation arcs completely and utterly spoiled.

    See original review for GIFs and other images.

    This review is completely spoiler-filled. Please do not read it unless you are prepared to have various aspects, plot points, and characterisation arcs completely and utterly spoiled.

    Yes, this is a weird book. I liked it. It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't terrible. It offered something a little bit different while presenting a lot of familiar fantasy tropes. I don't recommend it to everyone, because clearly everyone's taste is going to vary on this book, but if you're a) a mature person and b) curious about this, I encourage you to give it a shot. It might just be the weird little book you're looking for.

    I received a copy of this book from Walker Books Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  • sam  {Multi Dreamer}⚔

    I'm always looking for new books to read. One with ideas and concepts no one has ever thought of before. As soon as I heard about the elven detail of this book I knew I definitely wanted to read it. However, as much as I wanted to like this book it just wasn't for me. I was extremely confused with where the story was going and the multiple PoVs made it difficult for me to grasp onto an idea of what the plot was. I have mixed feelings abo

    I'm always looking for new books to read. One with ideas and concepts no one has ever thought of before. As soon as I heard about the elven detail of this book I knew I definitely wanted to read it. However, as much as I wanted to like this book it just wasn't for me. I was extremely confused with where the story was going and the multiple PoVs made it difficult for me to grasp onto an idea of what the plot was. I have mixed feelings about the romance and the characters and I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked. 2.5/5⭐

  • Elizabeth

    I received a free arc of this from NetGalley.

    It sounded very intriguing, but ultimately I was very disappointed with the directions this book went. And it just ... wasn’t really that great in general either. Honestly I would probably rate this 1.5/5 stars if I could.

    The plot synopsis sounds so intriguing. But don't expect any legitimate court intrigue. Nope, in this story, the plot is ham-fisted romance with some half-hearted, pedestrian level political scheming and a dash of basic fantasy trop

    I received a free arc of this from NetGalley.

    It sounded very intriguing, but ultimately I was very disappointed with the directions this book went. And it just ... wasn’t really that great in general either. Honestly I would probably rate this 1.5/5 stars if I could.

    The plot synopsis sounds so intriguing. But don't expect any legitimate court intrigue. Nope, in this story, the plot is ham-fisted romance with some half-hearted, pedestrian level political scheming and a dash of basic fantasy tropes.

    Let's just get into some of the basics:

    + The Characters: They're just not well-developed; it's only been a few days and I can barely remember most of their names. And there's too many of them (and too many POVs) to have enough time to dig into all of them. Some of the characters are hardly developed at all. The four POVs we see are Thelia (cousin to the princess, Corene), Parsifal (Thelia's cousin, not related to Corene), Bayled (Corene's love interest-ish), and Sapphire (a non-binary elf). Thelia is scheming (but secretly has a ~good heart~), Parsifal is a mouthy cad, Bayled is Basic Bland Male Love Interest (tm), and Sapphire is warrior conflicted between their feelings for duty and the humans they meet. And that's it. They're never developed beyond that. Forget about Corene -- she ends up being possibly the worst person, but we never see her POV and her actions are just never explained at all. There's some minor characters like the King, Thelia's brother, Nul (Corene's other LI), but they're completely forgettable. They don't contribute anything.

    + The Representation: So you're got Parsifal, who's bisexual (and runs afoul of the Depraved Bisexual trope because sure, why not). And then you've got Sapphire, who is non-binary. Their gender identity is explored a tiny bit in the beginning, but that's all. Maybe possibly Thelia is bi/pan, but that's never touched upon at all in any regard.

    + The Relationships: Oh, boy. Corene/Bayled is as boring as you can get. Corene/Nul is never explained, never expanded upon, and I honestly don't know why this relationship exists other than to show how good and pure Bayled is and how Corene is just a ~bitch for playing with his feelings. And then there's Thelia/Parsifal+Sapphire. Look, I don't like poly relationships in fiction. I just don't. I can't relate and I've only ever seen it done once in a way that didn't seem forced. Parsifal has been in love with Thelia since forever, but Thelia isn't interested at all -- until 2/3 of the way through the book she decides Parsifal is her true love (and of course they have fantastic chemistry and everything is magical). Plus there's the factor of Sapphire, who has insta-love with Parsifal (though the author did set up the feelings between Sapphire and Thelia). Don't worry though, Thelia/Parsifal+Sapphire is all handwaved with the explanation that it's "all the magic" that's making them attracted to each other. Nevermind that no one else is affected by all of this ... we're just supposed to expect that feelings can be changed/turned on with the flip of a switch.

    + The Writing: It's fine from a technical standpoint. I felt like seeing medieval-ish characters saying "mom" and "dad/daddy" sounded weird, especially since the characters aren't children. It just felt out of place.

    + The Overall Plot: I mean ... nothing really happens. Thelia wants to rule the kingdom, so she tries her darndest to make it happen. But her plans are spoiled by the elves attacking because ... there's too much magic in the human world. The how or why of this is never explained. So the King decides to send Bayled and future-son-in-law Nul to go fight the elves. But of course, Nul wants to kill Bayled (because ... I don't know why? It's never explained). The elves successfully attack, they capture the kingdom and take everyone prisoner ... yeah, we've seen this all before.

    The final verdict: There's nothing here in this book that's new or groundbreaking. The LGBTQ representation is questionable. Characters aren't fleshed out (or particularly likeable), motives are never developed in any natural way (if at all), and the plot is just such standard paint-by-the-numbers high fantasy fare. It's a shame, because I do think some of the concepts introduced are interesting (like the goddess and her priestess), but of course none of that is ever expanded upon or explained at all. This sounded like an interesting story, but nothing interesting ever happens.

  • Zoë

    is a young adult high fantasy story that involves themes of political intrigue, romance, and magic. In a lot of ways, Castle of Lies was unexpected and even surprised me. But unfortunately, I found a lot of flaws with this book that could have largely been avoided with more editing.

    This story seemed to want to go too many places at once. O

    is a young adult high fantasy story that involves themes of political intrigue, romance, and magic. In a lot of ways, Castle of Lies was unexpected and even surprised me. But unfortunately, I found a lot of flaws with this book that could have largely been avoided with more editing.


    This story seemed to want to go too many places at once. On the one hand, this is a political intrigue story. The Holy Kingdom is ruled by a drunkard king who basically bankrupted the whole country. His daughter, Corene, is of marriagable age, but his ward, Bayled, has been promised the throne. Thelia is from a family of nobles, but she grew up alongside princess Corene. Thelia was raised to be a warrior and conspirer by her mother - believing that the one purpose of her life is to become Queen. Bayled seems the perfect path to the throne. But everything gets thrown into chaos when the King reveals he has promised Corene’s hand to a Southern Lord to secure their alliance.


    On the other hand, we have the element of the elves and magic. Sapphire is an elf recently promoted to an elite elven fighting group. Their mission is to invade the Holy Kingdom and gain control over an out-of-control wellspring of magic that the humans are completely unaware of.

    
Once the elves make it to the Holy Kingdom, the storyline of who will be king/queen is largely forgotten about, and a few major questions I had were left unanswered. One of which was about the magic problem in the Holy Kingdom: why was the magic overflowing? Additionally, Corene's engagement to the Southern Lord is a plot point that is completely abandoned, despite the many unanswered questions and contradictions there were.

    
The characters in this story I have very mixed feelings about. Honestly? This read a lot like a messed up fantasy version of Love Island. All of the characters are a little bit trashy - and not in a way that's wholly entertaining. Because of the political conspiring, none of them really trust each other. Towards the end of the story, they begin to build some trust, but it wasn’t quite enough to make up for rest.

    
➤

    - The main character and one of the POV characters. She is definitely fits in the “badass tough girl” fantasy trope. She was trained in martial arts by her mother, but she was also abused by her mother and other members of her family. Despite that, her mother’s training defines her life, and she strives to become queen one day.


    - The princess. Corene and Thelia grew up together, and are practically sisters. But when the story starts, Thelia absolutely hates her guts because of an unspeakable thing Corene did to Thelia. I honestly thought Corene was the most pointless character. Of all the characters, she manipulates and uses people the most. But she also sees the least development, and a lot of what she does is left without motivation or explanation.


    - Originally from a kingdom to the North, Bayled’s parents were emissaries to the Holy Kingdom. When they died, the King took Bayled under his wing as his ward. Because of the King’s favor toward Bayled, he has been promised to inherit the throne. Bayled grew up with Thelia and Corene, and is madly in love with Corene. Honestly... Bayled was the most clueless of all the characters. He wasn't my least favorite, but I really wanted to slap him at times - He is entirely unaware of the way Corene and Thelia manipulate him.


    - Parsifal is from a family of nobles left bankrupt by the King's spending. Parsifal is described as disfigured, and uses his sense of humor about his own looks to get his way with others in court. Parsifal struck me a little bit as a cheap Tyrion knock-off - he is sexually wanton, drinks too much, and makes people laugh. He also deals in secrets, and uses people’s misconceptions about him to his advantage. Of all the characters, I thought Parsifal was the most interesting, and sees the most development throughout the story.


    - An elf, and the one elvish POV character. Sapphire is non-binary - the elves get the choice to choose their gender at a certain age, and Sapphire never felt completely right as a man or woman. I thought this was an interesting concept that wasn't explored enough. Of all the elves, Sapphire is the most genuine and compassionate - but at some points their naïveté got on my nerves. Their relationship with Thelia and Parsifal is a key part to the story.

    makes a genuine attempt at LGBTQ+ representation, which we definitely need more of in high fantasy. However, I don’t think it was completely handled the right way. (I am not a part of the LGBTQ+ community, however, so please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.)

    
There is a bi character, a non-binary character, and a polyamorous relationship. The bi character unfortunately is written into the stereotype of bi people being “promiscuous” or “perverse”. They don’t really challenge this problem in the story. As for the polyamorous relationship... there is just a huge part of it that really bothered me, that I can't really explain without spoiling the story.

    
Sapphire is the non-binary character, and I found the concept of this really interesting. However, it isn’t really developed in the story. The author definitely could have used this character as a platform, and I think that opportunity was missed.


    Moving away from the LGBTQ+ aspect, there was a particular romance in the story that I found really problematic. Two of the characters that get involved with each other are cousins. Okay, I guess you could argue that in a medieval setting, getting involved with your cousin wasn't so strange. However, we are in 2018 - do we really need to be writing

    stories where cousins love each other?? I was also disappointed because without the aspect of the characters being cousins, this romance would have been one of the highlights of the story for me.

    The writing was a big miss for me. There was a lot of potential, but some serious, heavy editing was needed.
One of the major problems was the dialogue. In some parts it's just... so cheesy and cringe-worthy. One of the things I hated the most was the fact the characters refer to their parents as "Mommy/Mom" or "Dad/Daddy". Maybe this is very nit-picky of me, but it just felt... so wrong in this setting.


    
There are also some really bizarre and at times disgusting analogies for certain situations. One example is when one character kisses another, making someone else jealous. The character who kissed uses this sentence to describe their guilt:


    
(Poop garden being the castle's sewer system.) Like.... okay?? Is this visual necessary?? There were numerous instances of very weird analogies like this, and I don't understand their purpose. Are we supposed to laugh? Supposed to feel disgusted? I wasn't sure whether the author wanted us to take the story seriously in instances like this.


    At other times, the vivid descriptions worked really well, such as this instance at the beginning, where Thelia's hatred of Corene is being established for the reader:


    This description makes me feel kind of gross - but in a good way because Corene is so miserable.

    I think this story had some solid bones. But covering that are a lot of flaws - it's just unfortunate it wasn't edited a little better. I liked the political intrigue, I liked the magic. Heck, I even liked how miserable and trashy the characters were. Some of the characters did see some decent development throughout the story, which I appreciated too. Unfortunately, the things I liked just were enough to outweigh what I didn't like. I don't know if I would continue this series, but I could see myself giving this author another try in the future.


  • Claudie Arseneault

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

    Book tw: mentions and threats of rape, violence, disfiguremisia, anti ace/aro/sex work content, incest (cousins), alcoholism and generally lots of drinking, explicit sex.

    I asked for it because YA castle intrigues with queer teenagers sounded amazing. I was told one character was demisexual (Thelia) so I was super excited to see how that'd play out.

    Unfortunately, this book doesn't deliver on ... pretty much everything?

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

    Book tw: mentions and threats of rape, violence, disfiguremisia, anti ace/aro/sex work content, incest (cousins), alcoholism and generally lots of drinking, explicit sex.

    I asked for it because YA castle intrigues with queer teenagers sounded amazing. I was told one character was demisexual (Thelia) so I was super excited to see how that'd play out.

    Unfortunately, this book doesn't deliver on ... pretty much everything? It's not *awful*, but there was really very little to keep me interested. 'Court intrigues' here is synonymous with 'petty teenage romance plots', and it's hard to really dig these characters when they have so little depth. They eventually develop a bit of it, especially Bayled who grows from the most bland love interest into an actual person, but that's ... it. I guess if CASTLE OF LIES was just very standard fantasy tropes mixed with undeveloped characters, I might have given it three stars.

    I wish that was it, though, but apart from the polyamory, so much of the representation within CASTLE OF LIES is ... let's go with lackluster. The nonbinary character is, of course, the non-human one (the elf). Parsifal hits so many Promiscuous Bisexual flags it's not even funny, and he's only beautiful when people see 'past' his disfigurement. The elves as a whole are exotified constantly and frequently felt like Native caricatures.

    Then there's Thelia, the demisexual character. I'll keep this short. The ace was of course the most manipulative of them and was described as 'cold' and 'heartless' by others. Yikes. In the first half of the novel, Thelia is established as a generally sex averse person, with the exception of the Baron, with whom she developed attraction. It's a Big Deal that he was the one she felt comfortable kissing. That was all fine, but the characterization flies out the window to ham-fist sexual encounters with Sapphire first (a kiss), then Parsifal (daily sex for comfort!! with her cousin!). Thelia never reflects on how different this is from previous experiences, never questions anything, and it's essentially like she was never previously described as anything close to demisexual or sex averse. It was incredibly off putting to have her identity vanish like this. It read like demisexual people just ... become allosexual, and like sex averseness or sex repulsion are only present when sexual attraction is absent. While I can imagine several stories where this could be respectfully explored, CASTLE OF LIES unfolds without any introspection, except perhaps that Thelia is a better person now that she loves and has sex. Good message there. /sarcasm

    Overall, CASTLE OF LIES was a bust on all accounts for me, and I'm really disappointed for all the lost potential.

  • thewoollygeek

    I wanted to enjoy this based on the description it sounded so good, but for me it just didn’t do it. I couldn’t connect with the characters, found them unlikeable and didn’t really care what happened to them. It’s confusing at times and I think the characters were confused generally. Sadly not for me couldn’t hold my interest.

    Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion

  • Ashlee » Library In The Country

    DNF @ 9%

    I can’t. I just can’t. This is the first book I’ve DNF’d in years – so hey, it gets that award! Typically I’ll strive to stick through them but this one was just so over-the-top and modern sounding.

    Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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