Author: Madisyn Carlin
Series: The Deception Trilogy #1
Release Date: April 27, 2022
In a land built upon lies and deception, uncovering the truth can be deadly.
Therese Westa is sick of death, but taking lives is what provides for her younger sisters. When a client approaches her with an unusual request, Therese takes the job offer, which includes the condition of “no questions asked”. As Therese uncovers the reason for the request, she is faced with a choice: kill an innocent man or save her sisters.
Therese’s hesitation to carry out the assassination thrusts her into the aftermath of a dangerous chain of events. Caught between security and truth, Therese must choose where her loyalties lie, for the answer will determine who survives.
Reviewer: Timothy McKay
I’m a big fantasy fan, but finding good Christian contenders in the genre can be challenging. Authors tend to have trouble creating a parallel world with Christian themes without recreating God in their own image or portraying something that reads very much like idolatry. So I usually ignore the attempt to inject faith into the story and just stay for the magic, the characters, and the plot. The exceptions to this pattern are well-done allegories in the spirit of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia or historical fiction with some fantasy elements thrown in— Stephen R. Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle books are a prime example. Deceived by Madisyn Carlin falls into the first camp. Carlin’s allegory transpires in a medieval world full of tyranny, crime, murder, and misery, with her charming but oppressed characters slowly coming to realize that things need not be this way. Those of us who didn’t grow up in the church know that the path to Christ often starts with exactly that realization.
I really loved Carlin’s characters. I hope it doesn’t say too much about me that my favourite character by far was a conflicted rookie assassin named Therese, a character so endearing that I honestly wouldn’t have minded if she’d succeeded in a few more murders. The story could survive the loss of a few other main characters, but not her. She provides needed contrast to the charming but naive innocence of the other main character, Holder.
My only complaint while reading Deceived was the exaggeration of the allegory—it didn’t always feel believable. The characters discover secrets about their king that flips their world on its head, which I enjoyed. But they also discover rumours of another king and another possible way of life. Here the allegory is sometimes too obvious, the difference made in a person’s life by certain Christian truths too exaggerated. I say this, having made the mistake of ostracizing some unbelieving friends in the past by assuming their lack of faith prevented them from holding even the basest grasp of love, truth, hope, morality, etc. Deceived runs the risk of the same ostracism towards a wider audience that I believe would enjoy and needs to hear Carlin’s message. It just needs more depth.
And I’m sure that depth is coming—Carlin’s writing is strong and engaging, her intrigue is complex and captivating, and her characters are only just beginning their journey in this book. The Deception Trilogy has the makings of a stylish addition to the fantasy lover’s collection, and I look forward to new revelations in the next book.
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