Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review: Princess of Thorns

Princess of Thorns
Published By: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy

Have you ever wondered if Sleeping Beauty truly got her happily ever after? Well, according to Stacey Jay - she didn't. Princess of Thorns is loosely based on fairy tales, but it is not a retelling and there are no Disney tropes lurking within these pages. This is a story of violence, a broken kingdom, secrets, and torrid romance. There are no damsels in distress wearing pink dresses waiting on a handsome prince to do all the work in saving the kingdom. Rather this story is gritty and far more entertaining than the fairy tale retelling I was expecting.

In this world, Sleeping Beauty is a minor blip. Her daughter, Aurora, is the main character. Aurora has been dealing with the suicide of her mother and the ogre overtaking of her kingdom since she was a child. Her mother's sacrifice allowed Aurora to take on her mother's fairy blessed gifts including the ability to be a formidable warrior and the ability to show mercy even against her better judgment. There are other gifts as well, but those gems can be uncovered as you read. Needless to say, Aurora is not your average meek and mild cartoony version of a princess. She kicks a lot of butt and doesn't let anyone push her around. I was hooked on this character from the moment I met her. I loved her courage, bravado, and stubborn streak. Aurora is independent and has a mind of her own. She has no desire to lose her identity in order to fall in love. We need more strong, independent females in YA literature.

Once the evil ogre queen takes Aurora's brother, Jor, hostage, she decides to take matters into her own hands to get him back. Her ventures through the countryside to gather an army have been fruitless, but her luck changes when she meets Niklaas, a handsome and desperate prince. There is just one problem - Aurora has disguised herself as a boy for her quest and Niklaas believes that she is Jor. The strike up a partnership of convenience and begin an epic adventure.

The characters are what make this novel shine. I loved both Aurora and Niklaas. The dual narration allows insight into the minds of both characters. In many ways, Niklaas is the male version of Aurora. He's brave and headstrong, but underneath it all there is a lurking vulnerability that fills him with self doubt from time to time. The true beauty of this novel is that two lonely and hopeless characters find a way to thrive. I loved watching the relationship evolve between these two. The banter is hilarious and brought me much needed smiles during a hectic and stressful week. 

In addition to the characters, I loved the setting. The interactions between fey, humans, and ogres was interesting and added an element I wasn't expecting. I found the various societal structures of each of the groups to also be interesting. Aurora even remarks on the stark differences between fey and humans when she comments that in fey lands it is not odd for a woman to be strong and brave while human men only see women as objects of lust that need protection. I loved watching Jay break apart gender stereotypes and flip them on their head.

Princess of Thorns is the ultimate literary escape. I loved the adventure and suspense. This one is full of hard headed teens hoping to change their fate, crazy ogres who feed on human souls, trees that feed on ogres, passionate kissing, fairy tale allusions, and a memorable pair of protagonists. This one often felt more fantasy than fairy tale, but I still loved every moment. That's saying a lot since high fantasy has never been my cup of tea. Jay has created a magical world full of intriguing possibilities. This one has earned a spot on my 2014 favorites shelf.


One Last Gripe: There were moments when I wanted to shake both Aurora and Niklaas. Their stubbornness was a bit ridiculous at times, but it served to create an infuriatingly delicious sense of tension.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked that Jay used fairy tales loosely and crafted her own world and characters. She didn't stick with the original stories which made this one more compelling for me. Her creativity and strong writing have convinced me she is an author who needs more of my attention.

First Sentence: Having discovered the secret to eternal life, and jealous of his throne, immortal king summoned a witch to the castle and ordered her to curse his eleven sons, ensuring none would live past their eighteenth birthday, the age at which a Kanvasol prince may become a king.

Favorite Character: This is so difficult because I loved Aurora and Niklaas, but I'll go with Aurora. Niklaas' lewd comments in the beginning often grated on my nerves. It took me some time to warm up to him, but I liked Aurora instantly.

Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one. I even loved to hate the villains in this one.



Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?


14 comments:

  1. OOoh nice review! I have this one slated as my next read and I am so glad to read an early review before diving in! I love fairy tales/retellings/reimaginings and this sounds like the last one in a sense! I have a feeling it's going to be just as epic as you say!

    And since I am your classified Disney nerd! Our Disney Aurora is always advertised/commercialized-->guessing those are the right words! to be wearing a pink dress, but in the actual Disney movie it's blue! The two fairies fought over it and the one who wanted it to be blue won! But yet, when we see her on toys and junk, it's always pink. Weird. Though as a kid growing up, I was more fond of the pink dress. Though now, I prefer the blue! haha! So yeah...I'm just weird full circle! ;)

    And once again, great review! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm, I always think of Cinderella as the one with the blue dress and Sleeping Beauty as the one in pink. I think this needs research on my part. I feel a Disney marathon coming on. Thanks for checking out the review. I hope you love this one as much as I did.

      Delete
  2. I was on the fence about this book, just because I haven't read too many reviews yet and not all the reviews I've read are super positive about Princess of Thorns. But now I KNOW I have to read this story asap! It just sounds wonderfully amazing! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw some lower rating on Goodreads, but I don't allow myself to read reviews before I read a book. I don't want someone else's negative thoughts to distract me from my own experience with the book. After reading, I looked through some of them and found that mainly people were upset because it wasn't a retelling of Sleeping Beauty or they didn't connect with the characters. I found these aspects were not problems for me at all. I think this is just one of those novels you love or you don't. There doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground. I was fascinated by the characters and the world.

      Delete
  3. I am someone who is all for character driven novels, so this sounds right up my street! I also think world building is something vital to a novel because without this happening convincingly, we could be set anywhere in a novel. Good to see a book that seems to check all the boxes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It did indeed check all the boxes for me. It was an entertaining read!

      Delete
  4. LOVE how it's a retelling that's really a peek into what happens after the HEA in the original fairytale!!

    LOVE girl disguised as boy novels and I love how all characters and world building were perfect!!

    Lovely review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't read a ton of novels where a girl is disguised as a boy. I did love the Westerfeld series, Leviathan, that had that component. What are some others?

      Delete
  5. I had no idea there was a connection to fairy tale in this book. Makes me want to read it even more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a loose connection. Sleeping Beauty is dead so it focuses on her daughter. I loved that the author created her own setting and mythology.

      Delete
  6. I love fairy tale based stories! thanks for the review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was interesting to get a more gritty and violent take on a fairy tale world.

      Delete
  7. your review had me by the end of the first paragraph...i need a copy of this asap! the library is a magical place!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This book sounds so interesting! Since I've heard such great things about it, I order it the other day and I'm excited to read it. I love that it doesn't follow the original fairy tale exactly. Thanks for the great review! :)

    ReplyDelete

We love your comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...