Dance of Thieves by Mare E. Pearson
by Anca Antoci
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Amazon: 4.60 (buy)
Our review: 5.00 (read)
I want to share with you one of my favorite books that features the enemies-to-lover trope. I've had it on my TBR for ages, but only read it in December 2022 and it was so rewarding.
Dance of Thieves is a young adult fantasy novel by Mary E. Pearson and the first book in the "Dance of Thieves" duology, published in 2018.
The story follows Kazi, a skilled former thief, now on a secret mission for her young queen. Under false pretenses, she comes to the land of the Ballenger clan in order to find out if they are harboring a fugitive. Things take an unexpected turn once she meets the new Ballenger leader and she must work with "the enemy" to survive. I can't say more without spoiling the plot, so I have to be vague, but I assure you it's a riveting story of loyalty and betrayal, of self-discovery and healing old wounds, and ultimately learning to trust and love.
One of the standout features of Dance of Thieves is its richly developed world-building and well-crafted characters. I feel like I know each corner of Hell's Mouth and Tor Watch. Pearson does an excellent job of creating a complex and immersive fantasy world, complete with its own customs, traditions, and political landscape. The characters, particularly Kazi and Jase, are well-rounded and compelling, and their relationship is a highlight of the novel.
Dance of Thieves has the best enemies-to-lovers I have read so far. This type of relationship can be particularly appealing to readers because it allows for a lot of tension and conflict to be resolved through the development of the romance. With Kazi and Jase, their initial hostility toward each other adds an extra layer of tension to their relationship, which makes their eventual romance all the more satisfying. Yes, it all starts with Kazi putting a knife to his throat just to make a point.
The fact that Kazi and Jase are forced to work together and rely on each other in order to survive adds a deeper level of connection and emotional depth to their relationship. As they get to know each other better and learn to trust each other, their feelings for each other grow and develop. This slow-burn romance allows for a lot of character development and emotional growth, which can be very satisfying for readers, and ultimately very rewarding.
Pearson's writing is evocative and immersive, and she does a great job of building tension and keeping the reader engaged. The world-building is also well done, with a richly imagined fantasy setting and engaging political and social dynamics. The romance between Kazi and Jase is also a highlight, with the two characters showing strong chemistry and depth of feeling for each other.
The plot is full of twists and turns, and the romance between Kazi and Jase is slow-burning and intense.
In Dance of Thieves, the most prevalent themes include power, loyalty, forgiveness, and the dangers of mistrust and deception.
Throughout the novel, various characters struggle with the desire for power and the temptation to use it for their own gain. This theme is explored through the political machinations of the various kingdoms and the personal struggles of the characters as they seek to assert their own power and agency.
Loyalty is another important theme in the book, as characters must decide who they are willing to trust and who they are willing to betray. Forgiveness is also a central theme, as characters must learn to let go of their anger and grudges and find a way to move forward.
The dangers of mistrust and deception are also key themes in the novel, as characters must navigate a web of lies and political intrigue in order to survive. Overall, Dance of Thieves is a complex and engaging story that explores a range of universal themes in a rich and immersive fantasy setting.
Overall, Dance of Thieves is a highly entertaining and engaging read that will appeal to young adult fantasy fans. If you enjoy books with political intrigue, complex world-building, and relatable characters, then this is a book worth checking out. If you're a fan of books like Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series or Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse novels, you'll definitely want to give Dance of Thieves a try.