Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis for Princess of Thorns (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?
Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
I’ve enjoyed Stacey Jay’s novels in the past for their original retellings of classic stories, like Romeo & Juliet and Beauty and the Beast. So when I saw the Princess of Thorns novel as an upcoming novel from her, I immediately went to see what it was about. Three things immediately sold me on this book:
- “Game of Thrones” meets (I love watching Game of Thrones, I have yet to tackle the books)
- “Grimm’s fairy tales” (I love fairy tale retelling stories)
- Sleeping Beauty (my favourite Disney princess is Aurora)
This book just seemed to have been made for me and I wasn’t going to do it the disservice of not reading it.
The Concept / The World:
Considering I was reading this book solely for the concept, I was expecting great things and I really did like the setting of Princess of Thorns. It was gritty and intricate which made reading about Aurora’s and Niklaas’ adventure very interesting.
I don’t recommend starting this book when you are tired like I did or else you might be a little lost at the start. It took me a lot longer to understand what was going on because I wasn’t in the right mindset and that dampened my reading experience. But once I understood the elements of the curses I really liked them.
I would say this book is more of an adventure/quest novel than a strict fairy tale retelling. Yes, the fairy tale element is a huge part of the plot but I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of Sleeping Beauty. When you read it, you clearly understand why they say it is like “Game of Thrones meets Grimm’s fairy tales” because that is the best way to describe it. However, don’t be expecting the politics of Game of Thrones when you read. Rather, expect Aurora to be more like Daenerys Targaryen in the second season (second book) where she struggles to find an army to get back her throne: which means it can be a little boring at times.
I did feel like the book was slow to start and I felt my mind wandering as I was reading. Again, I wasn’t in the right mindset when I was reading it (I had to read it ASAP to return it to the library on time) so I kept waiting for it to get really exciting and it never really did. I found the last half was a lot more interesting to read but it didn’t wow me in any way. I also think Stacey Jay’s writing isn’t totally for me. This is the fourth book by her that I have read and I find her writing style confusing. I’m often rereading lines to make sure I have things clear and I’ve found that to be the case with all her books so far.
I really liked Aurora. She reminded me a lot of Katsa from Graceling in the sense that she could kick some serious ass when needed but was a more reserved heroine (ie not in your face). I liked that she was strong and independent and had some passion for her cause. While she may not be my favourite heroine ever, I did like her and never got annoyed with her.
Niklaas on the other hand took me a while to like. It’s weird because I normally like the suave, charming male heroes but I didn’t instantly love Niklaas like I was expecting. And I think a part of that is the romance…
*sigh* I really have mixed feelings on this romance: the critic in me is battling with the reader in me.
The critical me can appreciate the “friends to lovers” approach this book takes. It’s a classic Shakespeare scenario where the girl disguised as a boy falls in love with the boy she is helping. It even reminds me of the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty where Aurora and Philip meet for the first time and find that connection that saves them later on. I can appreciate the approach, it just doesn’t mean that I liked it.
I wish the romance had a little more of a spark to it. Because once it was there, it was great. I loved the relationship between these two, I just wish it was elaborated on earlier in the book.
My Rating: 3.5/5
I really, really wanted to love this book but it fell flat. To me, it was Princess Aurora’s shot to prove that she isn’t the perfect case of Damsel in Distress and for the most part I truly think she did. I just wish the other elements were up to snuff and the book was 50 pages shorter.
Read if You Like: quest based stories, fairy tale retellings
Avoid if You: want more passionate romance, dislike slower starts
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm Series #1)
- Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
- Guilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge (Cruel Beauty Universe #1)