Thorn by Intisar Khanani

20558124For 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. – Goodreads

This story left me so divided, so confused with how I felt about it. On one hand, it was everything I tend to get annoyed with in fantasy novels: evil sorceresses, a princess at odds, obnoxious princes, a slow to move story, mean family.

Yet, these are the things that made the book so enjoyable. I didn’t feel the pushing need to read, read, read. It was like taking a slow walk in the park rather than sprinting to the finish line. I read it when I had a few moments. My heart never sped up, my anxiety never set in. It was a peaceful read, one where I had the opportunity to really appreciate the writing, description, and characters.

My favorite part of the story is the worldbuilding. I could picture everything perfectly, primarily due to the descriptively vivid imagery. I could picture the stable, the castle, the people, the Horse, the Wind, the plains…everything. The only thing I couldn’t picture was Alyrra, or rather, Alyrra in Valka’s body. The only thing I knew was that she had red hair.

Speaking of Alyrra, the character development was great. Slow, but great. Slow made it realistic. She’s a good person. That’s really all I can say—she’s honest, she’s not terribly courageous (though I would beg to differ), and she’s truly takes care of those around her. She’s basically the perfect princess.

I do wish I could have gotten to know Prince Kestrin better. There were some great twists at the end that revealed more of his character, but ultimately he seemed like a pompous a-hole for the entire story.

The story is based on Grimm’s The Goose Girl. I read The Goose Girl a very long time ago and had vague flashbacks of the storyline while reading this. Thus, I cannot speak to the accuracy of its retelling.

Great story! I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and fairytale retellings. 4/5 on Goodreads.

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