Welcome back for another week of book reviews! Basically, I have an addiction and it fuels this column so I find books on BookTok and if I can get my hands on a copy I read it and then review it. This week I will be reviewing “Dance of Thieves” and “Vow of Thieves,” a duology by Mary E. Pearson.
This book received a lot (and I do mean a lot) of hype on BookTok. So much hype that I had purchased the book about two months ago but waited to read it because I was scared I was going to hate it. I also must say I was a bit angry because most of BookTok advertises it as a one-off book. It is one of my biggest pet peeves to buy a book thinking it’s a standalone because that is how it is recommended only to get to the end and find out there is a cliffhanger and a follow-up novel. So a warning: “Dance of Thieves” and “Vow of Thieves” are a duology, though there are no further books in the series. If you don’t like cliffhangers I suggest starting these books when you have time to dedicate to both and that you have the sequel on hand when you finish the first book.
The books are also technically a part of Pearson’s “Remnant Chronicles.” I haven’t read the Remnant Chronicles so I cannot speak to whether they are worth the read or not (but who knows maybe that’ll be the next review). It is not essential for you to read Pearson’s other work; I think it’s a very loose connection from what I’ve read on GoodReads.
Onto the review. The book checked a lot of boxes for me with the tropes it contains: fake dating, enemies to lovers, duty versus love, found family, spying—the list goes on. Listing it out makes it sound overwhelming and all over the place but Pearson finds a way to meld these elements together to create an enjoyable story to read and become immersed in. A warning: the romance aspect of the book between our two main characters Kazi and Jase is a primary aspect of the book and it definitely isn’t a second-hand storyline. Love is definitely a driver in the story.
So let’s meet our characters. Our protagonists are Kazi and Jase and they come from very different worlds. I think Pearson does a great job of solidifying their characters as individuals from each other despite being tied together as love interests. All of Pearson’s characters are very well written and they act in ways that make sense considering what they have experienced. Jase is the new Patrei, making him Head of the Ballenger Clan. The Ballenger Clan—according to their stories passed from generation to generation—were the first clan before there were any Kingdoms. The Ballengers are not recognized as a Kingdom and therefore are considered Outlaws. I definitely loved how Pearson incorporated the politics of the Kingdoms and Clans into the story. Pearson definitely takes the time in the book to flesh out the kingdom structure and how certain families came to rule and who has beef with who.
Our other main character Kazi is starkly different from Jase. She didn’t grow up with a large family or with power like Jase. She lost her mother at a young age and had to steal in order to survive. She received the nickname “Ten” because she escaped with all ten of her fingers intact despite having stolen many goods. The punishment for stealing, if caught, is to have a finger removed. Kazi now works for the queen and is sent to the Ballengers to deal with a situation where they raided one of their villages. And that is how their paths cross and they start on this journey together where they are meant to hate each other because their duties require them to want different things.
Though I will say that I could have lived if Pearson decided just to leave the story off with “Dance of Thieves.” I was definitely less entertained by “Vow of Thieves” and felt it was getting a bit repetitive. That being said, I still enjoyed the book and I feel like it definitely showed more of Jase and Kazi as a couple and how they work together toward a common goal rather than fighting each other and deceiving the other in order to achieve their plans.
I think my favorite scene in “Dance of Thieves” was definitely when Kazi arrested Jase on counts of treason and brought him to her Queen. What a girlboss move, not going to lie. It was ruthless and calculated and she still somehow managed to make it a win-win situation at the end of the day. Does this cause problems later with a miscommunication trope in “Vow of Thieves”? Yes. But it’s such a great scene.
Last point—and probably my most valid point—the cover is a work of art. I mean seriously, it is gorgeous. One of the main reasons as to why I bought the series is because it is simply stunning to look at. And don’t lecture me with “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.” One hundred percent judge a book by its cover—if it’s pretty, get it; if it’s ugly get it from a library.
So yes, you should read this.