Book Review: “Thorn”

“Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling

Source: Bought

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

reviewI’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.


15 thoughts on “Book Review: “Thorn”

  1. Thanks so much for this fantastic review of Thorn! One of the things I set out to do in this story was write a heroine who didn’t become an overnight ninja / amazing sorceress, but by being true to herself and believing in herself could still save the day, and herself. I’m so very glad that you enjoyed that aspect of the story… And I am happy to report that I abhor insta-love, so you won’t have to worry about that from my quarter! 😀 Thanks again.

    • You’re welcome! It was really refreshing to read about a heroine like Alyrra. I’m very happy that I don’t have to worry about insta-love with your books. After finishing Thorn, I went out and bought your other books. I can’t wait to get a chance to read them.

  2. This sounds fabulous! I love Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl, so a goose girl retelling with its own unique spin is right up my alley. And I love that cover! Gorgeous!

  3. Oh yay! I’m so glad you read and enjoyed this too. This is one of those wonderful indie books I’ve read and loved and I’m always excited to see it get some attention. I agree with everything you said about this one. I love the little details the author added which made this story something more than the original. I also liked that it was a bit darker and more adult, including the more believable romance. Loved it! 🙂

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  5. I really need to read this one. My favorite part: “Sometimes we need a heroine who take her fall from power with grace and dignity” this sounds like my kind of heroine. I will read it as soon as I can.

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