This isn’t my first attempt at book blogging. I ran The Cheap Reader for a number of years before burning out. I’m dusting off some of my reviews and giving them new life over here.
Thorn is a special review. I read this book years ago when Intisar was a self-published author. Here were are years later and Intisar has hit the big time! Thorn has been bought by HarperTeen and is being reworked and republished. This review is based on the original version of the story.
“Thorn“ by Intisar Khanani
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
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.
I’m thoroughly impressed with this book. It’s no secret that I have a hard time with high fantasy but this completely drew me in. Yes, it is a retelling and I’m very fond of fairy tale retellings. Yes, it’s a retelling of the Goose Girl and I really enjoyed Shannon Hale’s version of the story. There was still something more to this story that I liked.
I loved that this was so much more than ‘just’ a retelling. If you’re familiar with the basics of the Goose Girl fairy tale, you could easily pick up those elements in Thorn. There were so many other wonderful elements to the story: Thorn’s friendship with the other workers, Thorn’s compassion for the children in town, Thorn’s ability to make the best of her situation, and so much more.
Alyrra (aka Thorn) is not exactly the strongest character. She’s a bit more quiet and reserved. She rolls with the punches and doesn’t rock the boat. All of that is good. We don’t always need a heroine who will kick butt and take names. Sometimes we need a heroine who will wait for the right moment to act. Sometimes we need a heroine who take her fall from power with grace and dignity. Alyrra did just that.
One of the things that I really loved about Alyrra is almost everything she does is motivated by being the right decision. When the change initially happened, she didn’t fight Valka as much as she could have because on some level she thought Valka might be able to be a better princess. Thorn lived in poor conditions because she didn’t think selling Valka’s things to better her life would be the right decision. She does sell a few things only when the money was going towards the children in town. Even in the end when Thorn goes to set things right, she’s doing it for others (particularly Kestrin).
Can I just say how much I loved how things played out in the end between Alyrra and Kestrin. You’d think there would be a grand, romantic scene between the two of them. No such luck. They’re very happy but no I-love-you’s were uttered because it felt too rushed. Yay for allowing common sense and a real development of feelings.
The bottom line? Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Khanani rightfully deserves a spot on my favorite fantasy bookshelf next to Rae Carson and Kristin Cashore.