NovelReads: Thorn By Intisar Khanani
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
BY CLAIRE WU
This week on #NovelReads, our book reviewers had a royal time reading "Thorn", a twisted tale about love, betrayal and friendship.
All opinions expressed in this review are the author's only, and do not in any way represent NM.
Princess Alyrra has been the greatest disappointment of her family for as long as she can remember, a shadow in the castle with her cold mother and abusive brother. A visit from the king of Menaiya brings the proposal of Alyrra becoming Prince Kestrin's betrothed, a sacred opportunity for their two kingdoms to strengthen an alliance, but more importantly, for her to start a new life.
During her journey to the kingdom of Menaiya, she is cursed by revenge-filled Valka, her accompanying handmaiden, with the aid of a powerful faerie who aims to use her to kill the Prince. Unable to speak about the curse, she becomes lowly Valka, while her once servant transforms into a princess of royalty. Upon their arrival, she is sentenced by the "princess" to be the undesirable goose girl of the castle, which backfires as Alyrra enjoys her newfound freedom and befriends a magical horse that can talk, the powerful leader of a thief ring, and the adoring children of the streets.
But things can't stay perfect for long--she needs to find allies and devise a plan to warn Prince Kestrin of the impending danger that awaits him on his wedding day. Will she be able to save him, or will she only be able to save herself?
A spin on the classic Grimm fairytale "The Goose Girl," there is so much this book has to offer. With a riveting plot and lovable characters, readers will feel their investment in the story build as enemy plots unfurl, desperation leads to life-threatening trials, and hope brings a restored faith in humanity to all. One of the best things about this novel is that it is mystical without overdoing the cliché aspect of fairytales and has many moments where readers are left to guess at what will happen next (second best thing is that there is a companion novel!).
This has been one of the best books I have read in a while, especially in the fantasy genre. Personally, I am so tired of the YA trope where the main characters fall in love in the end with their happy ever after. In Thorn, their romance is depicted in a more realistic way, where they slowly built trust in each other before even considering the route to something more than platonic love. Even in the end, there is no dramatic or sensationalized romantic scene where they fall head over heels for another; instead, it is the beginning of their relationship where they will learn each others' truths that were previously shrouded in their complex pasts.
There is something truly magical within the pages of this book that I will never stop raving about!