This is my first ARC book! It took me way too long, but I recently joined Net Galley and this was the first book I got. It’s so exciting!
Thanks to Net Galley and Intisar Khanani for this free ARC to review!
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.
Thorn has received a Badge of Approval from Awesome Indies.
You definitely need to read at least a summary of the original tale to understand some aspects of this story. It’s very true to the Grimm tale, making me feel like it could have been more original. I would have liked to see it done in a more creative way, I thought it stayed too close to the Grimm version, even using the same names.
There are moments that don’t seem to fit and it can be pretty disjointed at times, but I think those moments are meant to be allegorical and teach lessons about our goose girl and her core goodness, which makes sense if you think about how traditional fairy tales were done.
The writing got in its own way sometimes. Khanani has a very unique voice and there are moments where it’s simplicity is beautiful, but other times I felt bogged down with descriptions. As we got deeper into the story it got better though, using more dialogue to break up the stream of consciousness and bring other perspectives into the story. However, I wasn’t a fan of the present tense, or lack of contractions.
In general I liked the MC in and understood her hesitations. I also thought that her growth was pretty believable. By the end she’s willing to take a stand and own up to her title by birth and use it to make good things happen. I also appreciated the lack of insta-love, though I would have enjoyed more a relationship between Alyrra and the Kestrin in general (I mean it is a fairy tale, true love is basically a requirement).