Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Curses and Courage: Princess of Thorns Review

Title: Princess of Thorns
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Random House Children's
Release Date: December 9th, 2014
*Much love and thanks to Random House Children's for the eARC via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
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?


My Review!
After finishing this, I just had one thought: Stacey Jay should never, ever stop writing fairytale retellings. This was so freaking good! And Of Beast and Beauty was one of my favorite reads of 2013. So basically, if Stacey never stops writing books like these, then I will be so freaking happy. (I mean, I'll still read all of hers anyway, but oh my gosh, I've loved her retellings).

I didn't even care what it was about, since I was going to read it anyway. Fairytale retelling? Check. Stacey Jay? Check. A strong heroine? Check. A hot love interest? Check. Basically, it's everything I love in a fantasy story. So I apologize ahead of time if this turns into a review that's more gushing than constructive.

Stacey's writing is GORGEOUS! Lyrical, enchanting, captivating. It's the first thing that pulls me into her stories and what keeps me reading until I'm sad that I've reached the ending. And when I'm pulled in with the writing, it's easy for me to get lost in the way the characters are telling the story. I love, love, love that this was told in dual POVs! It's so nice to hear both of the characters' sides and it just helps to connect more with them. And it makes the story that much richer.

And so do brilliantly developed characters. Aurora is everything I love in a heroine--intelligent, strong, a fighter who will do whatever it takes to save the people she loves, whether that means sacrificing her own life or not. She's not a martyr; she's just a girl hell-bent on revenge and will do whatever she can to keep her little brother safe. But nothing is going according to plan, and Aurora will have to face obstacles she never foresaw. Including an arrogant prince who has his own agenda. She could easily get swept up in romance and daydreams of happily-ever-after, but she's got more important shit on her mind. She's got priorities! But she's not perfect; she has flaws. She's stubborn as hell, full of pride, and impulsive. That leads to a few mistakes that thankfully don't have irreparable consequences. But they could have, and that's what Aurora had to learn. She needed to accept that she's not perfect and that she has to have faith in herself and others, or else she'll keep going down a lonely path.

But I think Niklaas took the crown for Most Stubborn. I swear, these two were perfect for each other just on that shared quality alone. At first, I wasn't sure what to think of him. He's incredibly arrogant, spoiled, and at times, vulgar. But underneath all of that, he's protective, attentive, and has a good heart. However, he thinks he's talking to Aurora's little brother, all the while never knowing that he was in the princess' company the whole time. I'm sure he'd be a bit different if he knew, and when he does find out, Niklaas is angry. Understandably so, because she outright lied. But he kept secrets from Aurora too, ones that might have changed her no marriage for me ever attitude. Because as much as Aurora is cursed, so is Niklaas. 

Their stubbornness led to some delicious sexual tension. And they had such great chemistry, even when she was disguised as a boy! They had a foundation of friendship which gave their relationship depth, even though it was wrapped up in secrets and lies. These two butted heads so much, and they both let silence speak louder than words. There were times when I just wanted to yell at them and say: BE HONEST. But these two have spent their lives hiding and keeping parts of themselves locked away, and they don't know how to let each other in. They let pride, anger, and carelessness almost ruin what they had with each other. But through everything that happened, their love blossomed. True and romantic and full of first love.

There weren't many secondary characters, but when they stepped onto the pages, they lit up. I loved that, through them, Aurora's and Niklaas' relationship grows stronger. I wish there had been more scenes with Jor, Aurora's younger brother, though. But through stories and Aurora's worry and love, I felt like I knew him. The "villain" was wonderfully developed, and I never knew where the story stood when the Ogre Queen was involved.

The story took a turn I hadn't been expecting but one that I fully enjoyed. There were action-packed scenes in which our heroine didn't stand on the sidelines, but there were also quiet moments of contemplation and vulnerability for both of the characters. It was about survival, love, death, and sacrifice. A journey in which the main characters learn about themselves and discover freedom from the constrains of their pasts and the curses they were born with. It led to an epic conclusion that brought with it so much hope for the future of Princess Aurora, Prince Niklaas, and the people of Norvere.

Princess of Thorns was another wonderful fairytale retelling by Stacey Jay. A book with so much courage, strength, and heart. A book where the princess doesn't wait for her knight in shining armor to save her and the prince fights with her side by side.

RATING:
4.5 Paw Prints!

11 comments:

  1. I don't know what I love more about this, the fact that it's a Sleeping Beauty retelling or the fact that it's a combo of Game of Thrones and Grimms.

    I do have a question though, how exactly IS this a Sleeping Beauty retelling? I know the MC's name is Aurora and she's like a princess, but is there another similarity to the fairytale?

    And oh! This reminds me of She's The Man and Mulan, a combo of the two. :) This sounds so great, I have it on hold at the library, so I'll be the first to get it when it comes out. :) Fantastic review Holly.

    --Amber

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dude, I honestly don't know like anything about the original fairytale and only know the Disney version a little bit. So, I can't help you there. I don't think it's a retelling so much as inspired by the fairytale.

      That's actually a pretty accurate combo. Haha. Thank you and I hope you love it, Amber!! :)

      Delete
  2. Ohh, I am going to need to read this! I have only heard of it recently (somehow!) but it sounds so very good. And beautiful writing? Yes please! I am definitely adding this one to my TBR. Great review, or perhaps great gushing!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN FOLLOWING ME AND YOU ONLY JUST DISCOVERED THIS RECENTLY? WOW. Also, Stacey Jay's writing IS very, very beautiful. So yeah, read it or else!!

      Delete
  3. GREAT AND AMAZINGLY WRITTEN REVIEW HOLLLLLY!

    This book reminds me a little of Eon by Alison Goodman, but wow this is a Sleeping Beauty retelling? I can't really tell just because the MC sounds so badass. But I seriously need to read this book because IT SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD RETELLING. And yay stubbornness muhaha.

    This is a standalone right? yes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SHANKS VAL.

      Eon? *looks it up* OH. Wow, that sounds good. I don't care for Middle Grade books really, but I might just have to make an exception. AND YES YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.

      Also, it IS a standalone! And it wraps up really nicely. :)

      Delete
  4. I definitely need to read this book! The characters sound so good. And I love books where a female main character dresses up as a guy. I usually love the couple in those kinds of situations and root them on. :) Great review, Holly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should absolutely pick it up, Kaitlin!! SO GOOD!

      Delete
  5. I had the same exact thoughts when I finished - I hope Stacey Jay continues to write retellings! I loved this so much! Maybe not quite as much as Of Beast and Beauty, but pretty damn close. It's so much fun, and I loved the relationship. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She should just never stop writing retellings! And oh my gosh, no, I definitely loved Of Beast and Beauty more. But these two were just so different, it's hard to even compare them to each other. I wouldn't even mind more books in either of their worlds.

      Thanks Danielle! :)

      Delete

Comments always make me smile. :) Seriously. Even if you comment on the post weeks or months later, it makes my day! So don't hesitate to leave your thoughts even if it's been a long time since the post was published. I'll try to reply to you, especially if you ask a question, but sometimes life happens. But I do read and appreciate every single one of them because I know how hard it can be to find the time or energy to comment. So a heartfelt THANK YOU for brightening my day when you do. <3