Rummanah Aasi
Princess of Thorns is a loose fairy tale retelling, weaving elements of the various famous tales such as "Sleeping Beauty", "Rapunzel", and "Swan Lake" while creating a unique and compelling story of its own merit. Readers expecting a faithful retelling of any of the above fairy tales will be disappointed with picking up this book. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.

Description: 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?

Review:  Jay has created an interesting fantasy kingdom that is home to humans, fairies, ogres, and witches; however, I wished the world building was a bit stronger so we could see how the kingdom works on a grand scale. The story of Princess of Thorns is engaging and unfolds incrementally creating suspense and romantic tension throughout the book. Briar-born siblings Aurora and Jor have been in hiding for 10 years, ever since their mother, Sleeping Beauty, sacrificed herself in order to protect her children from the Ogre Queen. Now Jor has been kidnapped, and the fairy-blessed Aurora must save him before his blood is spilled and the prophecy of living darkness comes true.
  I liked the main characters of Princess Thorns. Aurora is a very likable female heroine. She is tough and strong when it is required of her, but also has vulnerabilities that draws us closer to her. Her loyalty and determination to save her brother is admirable though at times a bit unrealistic such as solely fetching an army to fight the Ogre Queen. She is reluctant to trust anyone unless there is some bargin in which she can gain from, which is exactly how she meets Prince Niklaas.
  Disguised as a boy and calls herself Ror, she teams up with the repulsive Niklaas, when he promises to help her find an army in exchange for an introduction to "his sister," Ror agrees. Like Aurora, Prince Niklaas is also a complex character. He reminded me a lot of Flynn Rider from the movie Tangled. Under his handsome and overly confident bravado, he too is trying to escape from his own destiny of turning into a swan by his eighteenth birthday unless he finds and marries a princess. You get to see and fall for the real Niklaas as you get to know him better through his journey with Aurora.
 Aurora and Niklaas had great romantic tension. They definitely had a hate-love relationship as their preconceived notions about one another stood in their way. As their journey occurs over the span of several days, their relationship grows believably as we see them transition between friends and something more. When the truth is revealed to both characters about each other, it was refreshing to see that it took time as they sought trust and forgiveness for one another as well as repair their strained relationship. 
  While there were some interesting twists to the story, I felt the ending was a bit too rushed. The promised epic battle scene lacked oomph and was resolved too quickly. Though the book could stand on its own and it does not have a cliffhanger, I do hope that Jay returns to this world as I was left with some questions. 
Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, some crude humor, and a violent suicide that takes place off the page. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Beauty by Robin McKinley, Book of Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, Bound by Donna Jo Napoli, Impossible by Nancy Werlin
5 Responses
  1. I hate when the ending is rushed like that but it doesn't sound like it took too much away. I've been wanting to read this one and I love retellings. Moving it up on the wishlist!

  2. Jenny Says:

    It's too bad the ending was rushed Rummanah, but everything else sounds fantastic! Particularly the antagonistic relationship between Aurora and Niklaas, those types of romances just make me happy. I'm really hoping she writes another book in this series, but after all the drama last week, I'm not sure if it will happen. Boo.

  3. I am curious about this one, but the cover really puts me off, I don't know why. Anyway, I like the concept of Aurora being a boy and all that, but a rushed ending drives me nuts. Hmmm... still considering.

  4. Aylee Says:

    Oh I somehow had no idea that this one was set in a sort of fantasy fairyland world with elements from several different tales! I knew Stacey Jay is known for her retellings, but I have to say that this one interests me more than any of her previous books. It's too bad the ending was rushed and the world building found lacking because otherwise this would be a complete win.

  5. I loved Of Beast and Beauty and need to get around to reading this one to see how it compares. It's too bad you thought the ending was rushed and the worldbuilding wasn't as strong, but otherwise it seems great. I really like the sound of the romance.

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