Hey everyone! Today, I’m reviewing Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton which was very kindly sent to me by Harper360YA!
What the book is about…
In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.
Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.
But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
What I thought of it…
This was quite a mixed bag of a book. It opened with a bang and I initially liked the writing style but I soon realised that it was much like most other YA fantasies these days. The world seemed cool but wasn’t very strongly developed – and any world building there was consisted of clumsy info dumps.
I could maybe have overlooked the lack of world building if I had fallen in love with the characters but they all seemed pretty bland to me. I didn’t really feel anything for Mia or Quin, and I’ve honestly already forgotten most of the others that were introduced. There was a nice bit of diversity in terms of character sexualities; I would have liked this to be explored more instead of the typical tropes we’ve seen a million times before.
The book was very slow in pacing, with lots of setup, so it took me a long time to become invested. It felt like things were only just getting going and the book was over. Again, I might not have minded so much if I’d been having heart eyes for the world the author was creating but I just don’t feel it was anything special or memorable. Even by the end of the book, when the action as ramping up, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat needing to know what was going to happen.
I feel like I’ve been really negative so far and I feel terrible for it! This was a debut after all so maybe I’m judging it too harshly. It definitely wasn’t all bad. There was some really nice feminist ideology at the heart of the story and I really appreciated it. There was also some genuinely great writing in there; many turns of phrase were quite lovely (eg. “the moon put on a white veil and walked the sable sky” – I mean, that’s gorgeous!) I also loved the foody bits and Mia’s interest in anatomy. I just feel like all the good stuff got a bit lost in a very generic-feeling book. Maybe the continuation of the series will allow the author to develop these good points and lose some of the elements that were disappointing here – but I’m not hugely likely to read the sequel.
Has anyone else read this one? Did you connect with it more than I did? And does anyone else feel guilty posting negative book reviews?!