Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published by Random House Publishing Group on 2014
Genres: Adaptations, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Siblings, Young Adult
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? Praise for Juliet Immortal
I was provided with an ARC of this title by Random House Children’s & NetGalley
in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to both for the opportunity!
I’m honestly not quite sure where to start here…actually I have no clue how to even write this review. I mean, how am I supposed to write something cohesive and coherent about one of the BEST BOOKS I’VE READ ALL YEAR!!!! I really have a much harder time reviewing books I love because all I want to do is post a photo of myself cheesing it up with the book and a caption that says “READ THIS NOW!” I’ve done you a favor though, and instead of a selfie of me with Princess of Thorns surrounded by hearts, I’ve created a mood board to give you a visual sense of how epic this book is. Check it out…
This book kind of came out of nowhere for me if I’m being honest. I requested it on NetGalley a few months back after reading the summary and deciding that it sounded like a book I would enjoy. Then over the past month or so, I started hearing some serious buzz about how amazing this book is. So when I FINALLY got around to reading it last week, it’s safe to say that I was blown away and its now become one of my very favorite reads of 2014.
The story of Aurora has some familiar elements to it, as it’s a bit of a twist or continuation of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Aurora is the daughter of Sleeping Beauty and her handsome rescuer, but her parents happily ever after never quite materialized. Aurora has grown up in a cruel and unforgiving world, and is forced into some pretty unfortunate circumstances. I thought Aurora was an amazing main character, and the bravery and strength she possessed was exactly what I was looking for when I started reading. She’s also a sympathetic character but I never really found myself feeling sorry for her, because she is just so capable and brave. Go on girl!!
I also found it really intriguing that she spent much of the book disguised as a man, not as a way to create an image of strength and capability to others, but as a way to disguise herself so she could accomplish what she needed to. Aurora is smart, strong and bad-ass and, thanks to her fae lineage, the woman knows how to handle herself in a fight! She reminded me a lot of Celaena from the Throne of Glass series and Scarlet from the Scarlet series, and because of that she’s earned a spot on my roster of favorite female fantasy characters.
As part of Aurora’s journey, she finds herself paired up with a prince that has his own secrets to keep and battles to fight. Being the bad-ass female that she is, Aurora quickly enlists Prince Niklaas’ help in her quest to rescue her younger brother and reclaim her throne from an evil queen, and they become a dynamic duo. It was pretty interesting to see their relationship develop while Niklaas is under the belief that he’s travelling with a man. Stacey Jay did a fabulous job creating layers in each of her main characters, allowing them to become individually distinct but even better together. Their chemistry was absolute perfection, and when Niklaas finally discovers his travelling companion’s true identity, things are taken to a whole new level. Don’t expect sunshine, roses and love poems though…this is a uniquely complicated relationship and I was totally sucked in to seeing how on earth Aurora and Niklaas’ relationship would evolve.
I’m going to be honest and say I wasn’t a huge fan of Niklaas’ at first. He was a bit cocky, a lot arrogant and totally clueless when it comes to women. But, as the novel progresses his character growth is absolute perfection, and by half way through the book I was alllll about him! I was rooting for Niklaas just as much as I was rooting for Aurora, and their individual stories come together so perfectly and this makes the novel that much more intriguing.
Princess of Thorns hits all the right fantasy notes and completely delivers in the world-building category as well. This is the first Stacey Jay novel I’ve read and I was completely blown away by how beautifully she presents the world in which this story takes place. Aurora and Niklaas travel far and wide, and each location was more spectacular than the last. I got completely lost in the fantasy of this world, making it so easy for me to get totally sucked into the story.
If you love romance and high-fantasy, I highly suggest Princess of Thorns be added to your reading list as soon as possible. It’s incredibly adventurous, beautifully written and totally delivers on the swoon, and if you ask me that’s a perfect combination. Maybe it will make your favorites of 2014 list as well!