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Thursday, June 18, 2015

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Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (Book of Thorns)

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Princess of Thorns
Stacey Jay
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Reviewer: Sophia

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?

Princess of Thorns isn't even a retelling – it's just a fairy tale (pun may be intended) where the original characters are quite dead (poisoned, murdered, suicidal, etc.) and the spawn of Aurora 1.0 and Stephen is cursed in exchange for her fairy blessings.

That particular spawn, who I'm calling Aurora 2.0 (simply because THE Sleeping Beauty was born as Aurora but Stacey Jay calls her Rose), apparently has a brother who gets captured by the ogre queen and she decides to pose as said brother to raise an army to overthrow the ogre queen. Early on in her journey – the beginning of the book, in actuality – Aurora meets Prince Niklaas, son of the immortal king of Kanvasola and wait for it...

Also cursed.

I won't complain too much about Princess of Thorns – it's a neat idea and there's really not much you can do with a retelling of a princess who sleeps a hundred years and gets woken up by a kiss from a prince who goes through thorns and fights a green-fire breathing dragon witch known as Maleficent. I pretty much applaud authors who toy around with Sleeping Beauty – it's interesting to see what comes out of it.

But the book is sooo confusing. From the beginning, Jay quite literally throws us in a world where Aurora is aware of what's going on around her, but I have no clue what's going on. Aurora thinks she's seeing a hottie who she thinks is a "Golden God" – great! But what in the world is going on? All I know is she's been with the fey for ten years and she may or may not be with them right at that time, and whatever was going on for fifteen pages certainly doesn't sound very fey-like. I also know that her mother, the original Sleeping Beauty, is dead.

There were also a few things that just seemed really ridiculous.

The names are just not as creative as Stacey Jay might be aiming them to be. Niklaas, Haanah, Ekeeta, and the name that almost made me bawl in laughter? Nippa. It's almost as though in an effort to "foreignize" the names, Jay either "drawls" out a letter or it justs sounds like another word in the English language (sometimes, it's not even pleasant). In that case, I'll be Sofeeyah.

The entire concept of Aurora dressing up as her brother without anyone being aware was also a bit suspicious. Aurora slips up A LOT in front of Niklaas throughout the journey, and I'm a bit peeved he doesn't even question it THE ENTIRE TIME. If her brother were younger than fourteen and disguised Aurora slipped up a few times, then maybe it would have worked better. But Aurora's captured brother is fourteen – I doubt fourteen-year-old boys sound like high-pitched girls. As much as I applaud Aurora for having the guts to venture out in the world on her own to take down an ogre queen, I just don't buy her manliness.

In all honesty, though, Aurora as a Jor was a lot better than Aurora as a girl – she's desperate as Niklaas gets closer to his eighteenth birthday. It's quite literally, "Dude, come on! Marry me already!" And Niklaas is all mopey. "All is lost. No princess loves me, so dear God and all that is Holy, END THIS AND TURN ME INTO A SWAN ALREADY SO I CAN SWAN THE REST OF MY LIFE AWAY WITH MY SWANING BROS."

Aurora's approaching meeting with the ogre queen seemed really weird, abrupt, and cheesy – I felt like I just wrote a story in sixth grade where the bad guy goes all, "Oh, I'm so sorry! Let me just accept my punishment and go to flaming Hell." while being completely solemn. And obviously, the story becomes all happily ever after.

The entire explanation makes sense, but the execution just seemed weird and quick and somewhere in the process, the author realized, "Oh, wait. This is going on 400 hundred pages. I better wrap this up, and wrap it up quickly, or I'll end up boring the crap out of my readers if I throw in a deception and go on 600 or more pages!"

Disclaimer: I'm not making fun of the author. I'm quite literally saying I felt as though I was in sixth grade, writing a story with an actual limited number of pages and I had to wrap it up, so I did it abruptly. That was actually a true story. I did get a decent grade, so I must have done something right, right?

Also, at the time of writing this review, I was feeling more sarcastic than usual (though Lupe and Rundus would probably say I'm sarcastic 24/7). Princess of Thorns had a decent idea, but there were quite a bit of bumps and mucho ridiculousness throughout that made the story fall rather than burst out feathers and fly (see what I did there?).

2.5 Owls

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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.