TITLE: The Deceivers
AUTHOR: Kristen Simmons
PUBLICATION DATE: February 5, 2019
Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.
When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.
At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head.
The Deceivers is my first book by Kristen Simmons and I’ve got to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Kristen Simmons has many prior publications and I look forward to reading them when I can.
Possible trigger warnings for implied parental abuse and mention of child sexual abuse.
This is a story of Brynn, who doesn’t have the easiest of lives. Her father was shot at work and died suddenly and her mother then got into a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect either of them. She’s doing what she can to survive, but one day finds that all her saved money is missing and that starts off a series of events that change her life.
Brynn gets the opportunity to go to a private school that offers her better things in life. This private school is actually one for con artists and while they do get a typical education, they also get lessons in cons and working on different assignments for the director of the school.
“There’s a gray area between right and wrong. You’re here because you see that. Not everyone does.”
This was such a quick and fun book to read and I found myself never wanting to put it down. I found myself needing to know how Brynn’s assignments were going to go and if her past was going to affect her future. But I also wanted to know about the other teen’s in the school. I wanted to know what assignments they were doing for the director and how those would affect the story.
The characters in this story are so diverse and all seem to have interesting back stories that I hope we learn more of in the coming books in the series. It was at times hard to trust them because they are all con artists in a school teaching them how to be better con artists.
One of those characters that I was so interested in was Caleb. He was so mysterious and the cause of so much awkwardness throughout the story. The romance between them was such a slow burn and it was more so getting to know each than anything else. Since there are so many secrets between them and they are so guarded, it was hard for them to develop trust and feelings. To me it seemed like their connection was subtle at first, but as the two of them worked together it really grew.
“But careful isn’t an option. Careful is a luxury you have when your baseline isn’t chaos. When every decision isn’t determined by a calculated risk. In lives like ours, you grasp onto those who understand you, or you face every obstacle alone.”
I have mixed feelings towards the director and I think those feelings are leaning more towards disliking him. The decisions he makes and the assignments he gives these children are dangerous. Sometimes these children are gathering secrets and interacting with dangerous people. While he says they’re all never in any real danger, he obviously can’t account for everything and the fear is always real.
While I expected some twists and turns because it is a story about con artists, I definitely wasn’t expecting all that happened and the ending definitely had me on the edge of my seat and needing more.
I really enjoyed the writing throughout the story and think it had an accurate portrayal of the emotional abuse. It also has a subtle nod to power dynamics once Brynn is at Vale Hall and I think it did well on commenting on that as well. I can’t wait for the next in the series as well as to read more from Kristen Simmons.
Kristen Simmons is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series, THE GLASS ARROW, METALTOWN, PACIFICA, and the upcoming DECEIVERS. She loves her family, Jazzercise, and chocolate cupcakes. She currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
For more updates on Kristen and her writing, follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @kris10writes.