Hey all! Before I get into the review, I have a bit of a funny (and kind of embarassing) story to tell! I actually wrote this review immediately after finishing Heart of Thorns when I should have been studying for finals back in December 2019. I think that in the busy haze of finishing art projects and writing a novel excerpt for my creative writing class, I simply forgot to post this review! I recently found it when clearing some of my old blog drafts, and was surprised to find a fully finished review! I looked over it and I still stand by my review, so I’m comfortable with posting it, even if it lacks my usual pros and cons list. Without further ado: the review!
About the Book
Title: Heart of Thorns
Author: Bree Barton
Release Date: 7/31/18
Genre: YA Fantasy
POV: Third Person Limited
Page Count: 480 pages
In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.
Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.
But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
I first found this book in the clearance section at a local book store a while ago. I was first drawn in by the unique cover and title, but as I sat in the bookstore and began to read the book, I knew that Heart of Thorns was so much more than the synopsis promised. I bought it and binged it in less than a day, finishing it while I should have been studying for my final exams. (Oops!)
While I initially struggled a bit with the POV, as I typically prefer 1st person stories, but I quickly fell in love with Barton’s writing style. Mia’s interactions with other characters and her own eventual magic felt effortless and smooth, and I loved that while she’s very knowledgeable about many things, it doesn’t come off as plot convenience, as her desire for knowledge is explained in the plot and makes a lot of sense in her character. Because of this knowledge, we get a lovely language overlay of anatomical terms, such as when Mia describes the bones in a wrist while looking at a severed hand in the King’s collection. (I never said that this book was light and airy for the faint of heart!)
I really appreciated the diversity in this novel. As we go on, we learn just how rigid and bigoted the River Kingdom’s rulers can be, and how not only magic, but any non-heterosexual relationships are practically outlawed. Later in the novel, we learn that one main character is bisexual, a supporting character is gay, and more. We also have diversity in terms of race as well, though not in a very significant way, more just in passing mention. It’s still appreciated though.
I thought that the narrative was fun and compelling all the way through, and I enjoyed learning about Mia’s magic as she did. My main issue is with the ending. I don’t like it when there’s sort of an info dump from the main villian explaining their ideology and how they affected the storyline, but that’s exactly what we got here. It was also a surprising twist ending, which isn’t bad per-say, but I wish we had gotten more hints before we reached that point.
All in all, I’d give this book 4/5 shining stars, for being quite compelling and fun, but also for issues with the ending. That being said, I can’t wait to charge into the next book asap and see what happens next.
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