Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: May 30th, 2012
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, Retelling, Young Adult
For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she's never had ... until she's betrayed.
Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family's cruelty and the court's contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future.
But powerful men have powerful enemies--and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman's, giving Alyrra the first choice she's ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she's never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.
When I saw THORN on Netgalley I had to request it because I’d heard so many good things about it and it’s hard to say no to a fairy tale retelling. I can confirm that breaking my requesting ban was a good idea for this book.
THORN is a solid retelling of the goose girl fairy tale. It has all the typical fairy tale elements (princes and princesses, magic, and talking animals) and delivered a really interesting story with some surprisingly dark moments. It’s not the darkest retelling I’ve ever read (honestly I would have loved it even more if it was darker), but there were some things it insinuated that I couldn’t believe it went there, exploring themes like justice and law.
The plot is a bit slow, but it’s steady. It’s character driven with lots of discussions between the characters on their roles in life and relationships and things, so don’t go into this expecting non stop intrigue and suspense. Despite this, the writing was really addictive. It was incredibly hard to put THORN down and not keep reading at the end of a chapter. And then when plot things started moving, it got intense.
Fortunately for a character driven book, the characters were great in THORN. I thought each one was fairly well developed (some more so than others) and interesting in their own way. One of the most interesting characters, Red Hawk, really didn’t get enough page time in my opinion. He’s a vague shadowy figure that pops up and I need to know more about him and what he does.
Something I found interesting is the lack of romance in THORN. This is unusual in fairy tale retellings, which are usually heavy romance based. In THORN the romance is really a minimal side plot despite Alyrra’s engagement to the prince. There’s certainly subtext and hints of things there (so much tension!), but it’s never shoved in your face. There’s not even a single kissing scene! The focus is definitely more on Alyrra’s journey as a character and breaking the curse, etc. It was a strange experience but you know what, it fit the characters and the story perfectly.
Aside from having the story be darker, the thing stopping me from giving this book 5 stars is lack of world building. Lack may not be the right word because it is there, but it could have been more extensive. We know the basics about the world and the countries rulers, but not much about the different cultures, history, etc. These things can be hard to fit into a standalone novel but really would have only enriched the story.
THORN is a book I’d recommend to anyone who is a fan of good fairy tale retellings.