There is a rule amongst his kind: A jester doesn’t lie.
In the kingdom of Whimtany, Poet is renowned. He’s young and pretty, a lover of men and women. He performs for the court, kisses like a scoundrel, and mocks with a silver tongue.
Yet allow him this: It’s only the most cunning, most manipulative soul who can play the fool. For Poet guards a secret. One the Crown would shackle him for. One that he’ll risk everything to protect.
Alas, it will take more than clever words to deceive Princess Briar. Convinced that he’s juggling lies as well as verse, this righteous nuisance of a girl is determined to expose him.
But not all falsehoods are fiendish. Poet’s secret is delicate, binding the jester to the princess in an unlikely alliance . . . and kindling a breathless attraction, as alluring as it is forbidden.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 4.25 out of 5
I took a deep, floral breath and held it. Held it good and tight.
In the distance, beyond the castle walls, sunset gathered on the horizon. A gust of wind laughed it way through the landscape. Blossoms sang and grasses clapped.
Surrounding this stronghold was the lower town. Surrounding both, the wildflower hills. And surrounding the hills, the floral forest where petals sprouted from the trees.
A nation of rebirth and artistry.
If I had children I reckon I would be one of those mothers. The kind where I would just pick, pick, pick on something because I couldn’t help but be critical.
“Oh darling,” I would say, “I love your hair colour but why did you have to cut it so short?” or “That dress really suits you but you know you’d suit a much warmer palette, don’t you?”
I would probably say all this in a stuffy British accent while toying with my pearls before calling for my butler Reginald to provide me with another dry martini.
First off, I can’t help the stuffy British accent. I was born and bred in the Home Counties so I sound like I’m from Downton Abbey but I definitely don’t own any pearls and there is no way I could (or would) get a butler!
The problem that I have, and that you may well have noticed if you’ve read previous reviews, is that I’m picky. This means that I have an ability to make it sound like I didn’t like something when I actually really, really did. This is why it’s so irritating that the things I’m going to say are probably going to make it look like I didn’t like ‘Trick’ as much as I did. And I did. I even did a book edit because I enjoyed the story so much.
The characters of Trick are incredibly interesting. This is definitely more of a character driven story than a plot driven one but I’m pretty sure I’ve read somewhere that good characters will take you on a better journey through a mediocre plot than mediocre characters through an excellent plot.
It also helps that I’m a sucker for enemies to lovers stories. Like a proper sucker. Give me two antagonistic so and so’s with the promise that they’ll like each other eventually and I will eat that right up.
Briar and Poet are our joint deuteragonists. Briar is our prim princess with a past and Poet is our sexy sexy court jester with er… a past. I thought they had excellent chemistry and I enjoyed their personalities, especially the crude (yet witty) innuendo of Poet which very much fit his character. I also enjoyed the surprising hidden depths to both of them which fleshed them out from beyond the typical caricatures of what they could have ended up being.
My gripe was that there were times when Briar did the book equivalent of turning away from the camera and sighing dramatically whilst looking out over the landscape. I mean, she didn’t actually do this, but I got it. She’s suffered, she has pain, I got it.
What was also fabulous were the secondary characters. They were also well rounded with their own personalities and quirks; Nicu, Elliott and Briar’s mother, the Queen Avalea, are the three that primarily come to mind. I enjoyed the mother/ daughter relationship between Briar and her mother and that was good to see as I tend to think this is a missing relationship or even an antagonistic one in fantasy stories.
The setting in ‘Trick’ is one that I’ve noticed a lot of fantasy stories are doing – segregated Kingdom’s or Court’s based on seasons etc. This one is all about Kingdom’s. Briar is from Autumn and this story is set in Spring where the inhabitants are all about whimsy and getting frisky.
The world building is basic – we get a rough idea of what the kingdoms do (Autumn specialises in harvesting for example) and what they are like but not much more. ‘Trick’ is all about the aesthetic of the world and gives a flavour rather than a meal. Politics, economics, history etc. are given as a sample rather than as a solid foundation which is interesting as there is a political subplot but I’ve got to be honest, I found the descriptions so pretty that I didn’t really mind and I don’t read these stories for the trading and fishing histories of fictional places.
As I’ve said – this is more character driven than plot driven but that isn’t to say there isn’t one. The romance is definitely the main factor but ‘Trick’ also touches on complex themes surrounding learning/ mental disabilities (called ‘fools’ in this world) and this is one of the prominent subplots.
Now, this is where I need to be honest and say that I don’t know if this worked. This was not a lengthy book by any means and while I liked the fact that the writer was adding complexities I think too much was trying to be achieved in a short space of reading time.
If ‘Trick’ had a lighter romantic angle or the romance was removed and the subplot became the main plot it might have paced a little better. The more complex subplot needed to either be removed or needed to be given more time to breathe.
I’ve reviewed this writer before – it can be found here.
This writer is one who is an indie self-published writer and so I want to be gentle with my criticisms as previously stated but also, as previously stated, I am honest with reviews.
In my last review I said that the writing was of good quality but could vary in terms of purple prose, good prose and great prose. I will say this – if you don’t like the writing in the opening sentences then you won’t like the book. The writing is pretty much like that all the way through – quite flowery and lyrically descriptive.
This isn’t a bad thing and depends on personal style but here is a rather harsh statement:-
At times it comes across like the writer is trying too hard to be a writer.
I think this could just be the writers style but sometimes it comes across as though the book is trying to be literary rather then tell a story. There is a lot of prose, not necessarily of the purple kind, but the language is definitely harking back to yonder times, especially with descriptions.
Sadly, there were sections where there were far too many descriptions and not enough action or dialogue and then there were sections where there was chunks of unbroken dialogue with nothing to break it up.
BUT… when the writing is on point it is excellent. The lyrically descriptive style means that some of the descriptions were gloriously sensual and the writer did a great job at making the voices of Briar and Poet distinctive. In a weird way I almost want the writer to try less at ‘writing’ as they are a very good story teller. The story genuinely kept me engaged all the way through.
I love the potential that this writer has. Honestly, it’s there, it’s so there and I truly look forward to future offerings.
What I do think would benefit the story is some deeper editing and a further polish to shine this up. This writer was a prolific fan-fiction writer in a certain fandom and she has tried her hand to original work (which I’m glad about) but so far her editors or beta readers that she thanks are friends/ fans.
You need someone who is going to love what you write but also be able to carve the body apart. Sometimes friends and fans don’t work as beta readers because there is no impartiality.
What I am seeing is the creeping in of formulaic plotting/ structure with some elements of ‘Trick’ being too close to her debut ‘Touch.’ I preferred ‘Trick’ to ‘Touch’ because I thought the holy trifecta of characters, setting and plot were more intricate and demonstrated the writers’s growth in skill.
The prologue though? Unnecessary. The epilogue? Also unnecessary.
I did really enjoy this though and would recommend to anyone looking for a romance/ fantasy with substance.