Skip to main content

Rose & Thorn

Last year's Ash & Bramble was one of my favorite books of the year. I was very much anticipating its follow-up Rose & Thorn so when author Sarah Prineas offered to send me an ARC, I said YES very quickly. I'm happy to say it is excellent and my favorite Sleeping Beauty reworking yet.

Rose has lived her entire life with her guardian Shoe in a valley protected by the Penwitch's power. When the protection is broken, Rose's circumstances change overnight and she must venture into the world on her own. The Forest brings her to the City where the Watchers carefully guard against the power of story. Instantly recognized as Cursed by Story, Rose is taken to the Citadel to have her curse removed.

Griff is the son of the Protector of the city and lives an austere life. The Watchers fight Story by living rational lives that leave no room for anything other than duty. As a Watcher and a Curse Eater, it is Griff's task to remove Rose's curse. When he can't do that due to its actually being three curses braided together, he is tasked with guarding her and using her to draw out the rebellious Breakers working in the City to fight Story's power through stories of their own.

Rose is determined to flee the city with the help of the Breakers and ends up dragging Griff reluctantly along. Forced to take refuge in a castle during a storm, Rose, Griff, and their companions find themselves caught in Story's web but are willing to fight its power with every weapon they have.

Rose & Thorn takes place several decades after the end of Ash & Bramble. It is very much its own story and I think it can stand well on its own from a plot standpoint. A lot of the world building is done in Ash & Bramble, but the world has changed a bit for this story too. Ash & Bramble is a perfect blend of fairy tale and dystopia. Rose & Thorn is likewise an interesting mix, though different in some aspects. In the City there is a perfect picture of what happens when you try to avoid one danger and up ending in a different one entirely. The lives of the City people are desolate and sad and lacking vibrancy. There is more than one way to enslave a person and though the City is mostly free of Story, they are now enslaved to Rationality. I loved this contrast and how both are dangerous. It's also interesting that the rational austerity of the Watchers actually make them, particularly Griff who longs for light and love, more vulnerable to Story.

Rose and Griff are main characters it is easy to like and feel sympathetic toward. Rose is beautiful. She is a fairly tale princess after all, but she is really oblivious to this. She has lived her entire life with an old man who loved her for being Rose so her first venture into the outer world is fraught with danger. It doesn't take long for her to discover that her looks are dangerous to her. Rose has a core of steel though and she works hard to forge her own path. She is a vivacious chatterbox who wants to see the good and possibility in everything. She is naive but not stupid, optimistic but not oblivious. Griff is the strong silent type. I usually don't really like this type of hero (mainly because it tends to get in the way of good banter which is what I like best in romantic pairings), but Griff really works for me. He is incredibly dedicated to duty and doing what he is ordered to. At every turn in this story, he is confronted with something new that changes how he has to see himself and the world. His austere upbringing did not equip him for that. It certainly didn't equip him to deal with Rose, who is constantly bouncing up to him and breaking through his reserve. I really loved the two of them together. As in most tales of this nature, their relationship develops incredibly fast but they do know each other well. Rose being Rose is even able to fantastically banter with his silences. So that's fun. I loved how she was the one who took most of the initiative in their relationship too. They are very much opposites but not in a way that puts them in opposition. It's in a way that they work well together side by side and need each other to thrive. (Ahem. See title and cover imagery.)

Rose and Griff are joined by Griff's Watcher partner Quirk and a Breaker woman named Timothy. These two are equally as important as Rose and Griff and I loved them just as much. They have really good chemistry and fill in the banter when needed. Quirk and Timothy are both connected to the story in Ash & Bramble so they have more knowledge of what the group is fighting and how to do it, but even they are blind when it comes to much of what is going on under the surface. There knowledge also prejudices them in ways that are sometimes detrimental.

Many of themes from Ash & Bramble are revisited here though from a different angle and I appreciated that. I liked how Prineas flipped a lot of things around that I can't get into because of spoilers. Above everything though I enjoyed the look at what happily ever after looks like outside of Story. That it is full of heartache, joy, and the memories of a life well lived.

I read an ARC sent to me by the author. Rose & Thorn goes on sale October 18.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shorter Musings MG Fantasy

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG fantasy reads. Anya and the Dragon   by Sofiya Pasternack This book is fun. It is a book full of adventure, an obvious bad guy, some more complicated morally gray area characters, and a strong, brave heroine. It is also a book about friendships, community, and fighting for what is right. All things that usually work for me really well. While I enjoyed this, I did feel it was a little overlong and there were certain plot points at the end I didn't love. However, there were things I thought were done really well, such as Anya's Jewish faith and the idea that power needs to be challenged. In the end it was a middle of the road read for me, but it is one I will certainly be recommending to dragon and fantasy adventure lovers I know! R is for Rebel   by J. Anderson Coats This is tough because I usually really like Coats's books. I had such a hard time with this one though on so many levels. It's difficult to get into because t

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Future Favorite Friday: June 2018

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments. Two Naomis  was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was understandably excited it's getting a sequel.  In this sequel to  Two Naomis , now that Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi E.’s dad are married, the girls have learned to do a lot of things together, like All-Family Sunday dinners, sixth-grade homework, navigating the subway system by themselves, and visiting their favorite bakeries. Until sixth grade in a new school presents a whole new set of surprises and challenges. Trusting her gut has worked for Naomi E. all her life, and she figures that it will be an asset to her role as a Peer Mediator—until she realizes how much of the job requires the Art of Compromise, which she’s only just starting to get used to at home. Naomi Marie i

The Reece Malcolm List

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding surprised me. Enough people I trust enjoyed it so I knew I would like it, but wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do. It is a really great book that is fun and has real heart and soul too. Synopsis: Things I know about Reece Malcolm: 1. She graduated from New York University. 2. She lives in or near Los Angeles. 3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week. 4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon. 5. She’s my mother. Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much. L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love. But the

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein