I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2014-12-09
Genres: Young Adult
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Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne. Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago. Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?Praise for Juliet Immortal“The bones of the classic Beauty and the Beast story are all here, imaginatively fleshed out with tropes from science fiction, fantasy, even political drama. . . . Will please readers who like to believe that fairy tales can come true, even under dire circumstances.” —The Bulletin, RecommendedPraise for Of Beast and Beauty“The romance is intense, and so is the horror in this strong reversal of the Romeo and Juliet story. . . . Teens will enjoy the macabre fantasy story of forbidden love.” —Booklist
I was completely won over by Stacey Jay’s Juliet Immortal and so, when Princess Of Thorns came across my book pile, I absolutely could not resist it. In Princess Of Thorns, Jay takes on the Sleeping Beauty myth, but only briefly, and instead she focuses on Sleeping Beauty’s child as well as a prince from another kingdom. As a fan of both fantasy books and romance books, this novel hit a sweet spot for me with it’s combination of world building and kissing and adventure. I tore through Princess of Thorns and ended up loving the book ALMOST as much as I loved The Kiss Of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, which is high praise indeed.
Stacey Jay’s Princess of Thorns opens with main character Aurora receiving a fairy gift from her mother, while she and her brother, Jor, are stuck in an ogre prison. Aurora’s mother blesses her with bravery, however, in order to pass this gift along, she must die. Once Aurora has the gift, she takes Jor, escapes down a garbage chute and runs away to the fairies. Over the years, Aurora and Jor end up separated and somehow, Jor is kidnapped by the ogre queen and is being tortured. And so, Aurora must rescue him. However, the ogres have a bounty out for her head, so she dresses as a boy. Friends, this is one of my favorite tropes, girls dressed as boys in fantasy books. Jay makes excellent use of this trope, by the way.
Alas, along the way Aurora, known as Ror, comes into contact with Niklaas, a Prince, and manages to trick him into helping her rescue Jor. Meanwhile, Niklaas is also a point of view character and he is searching for Aurora because she is his last hope. In order to combat a curse upon the sons in his family, Niklaas must marry a princess, and so he has set his cap at Aurora, a girl he’s never met. With the help of Ror, though, Niklaas thinks he can make his case and get Aurora to give him her hand in marriage. There are some tangled webs going on with this plot, but the way it is unraveled is so engaging to read.
Aurora is the quintessential strong woman character. She’s brave and loyal. She is set upon saving her brother and will risk anything to help him, even her own life. I loved how confident Aurora was in herself and how she was not going to give up, even when the going got tough. I found Aurora to be really easy to connect with because she consistently faces adversity, acknowledges that her path is hard, but keeps trying. I also liked how she didn’t think that she was beautiful, but did not really care all that much about it, until she starts to catch feelings for a certain main male character. If you like characters that are well-rounded, fascinating, and relatable even under impossible circumstances, you will probably like Aurora.
Niklaas is the main male character in this book. I liked that Stacey Jay gave him plenty of point of view chapters and that we really got to get inside his head. If we only had Aurora’s point of view to go with, we might see Niklaas as this arrogant jerk. However, reading his chapters gives great insight into his behavior and motivations. What I liked best about Niklaas’s character was that he gets to be a dynamic character. He experiences what seems to be the majority of character growth. We see Niklaas go from thinking females are weak and primarily helpmates who stay at home, to acknowledging that if we just let women do things, what they can accomplish is amazing. I have to say, I loved how good of a friend he is to ‘Ror’ and how dedicated he is to helping Ror despite facing a curse.
Stacey Jay’s world in Princess of Thorns is rife with ogres and fairies and all manner of enchanted creatures. There is magic pulsing throughout the book. There’s also plenty of fighting and action scenes to go around, for people who enjoy a good battle with their fantasy. There’s also many scenes that cause occasion for swooning. A fair warning, there are some ADULT situations in this book, so if that makes you uncomfortable you might want to read something else. Otherwise, I really devoured Princess Of Thorns and recommend it to anyone who loves books about girls who are powerful and strong.