Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton | Book Review

Heart of Thorns

Author: Bree Barton

Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books

Pages: 437 Pages

Format: ARC

Source: Sent to me for review by HCC Frenzy

Links to Purchase
 Amazon CABook DepositoryChapters Indigo

I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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.

It feels like it's been a hot minute since I read a high fantasy novel, and what a reentrance here. While I had a few issues with the book, what Heart of Thorns ultimately is, is a fierce, fun, and super feminist fantasy that is a great start to a series. 

My biggest issue with the story was the pacing. I felt like the first 250 pages just dragged on. Yes, what I was reading was interesting, but Mia and Quin's threat, and their enemies, just didn't seem real enough. The consequences of their running away, and the unknowns of where they were going just didn't raise the stakes. It wasn't until about 200 pages in that the characters themselves realised how high the stakes were and then started to act accordingly. The slow pace did allow for world building, character development, and some good slow burn romance wise, but I just wish the first half of the book was paced the same way the second half was.

But let's talk about the world. I really liked the world, and the political dynamic that was set up. I do wish we had gotten a bit more about the River Kingdom outside of the royal circuit, and overall just a more well rounded sense of the kingdoms in general, but the political intrigue was really captivating. I loved reading about the horrific king, and the dynamics between his family, and his hunger for power. I also loved how Prince Quin and his sister, Princess Kerri, butted heads, and showed both sides of the River Kingdom. The siblings showed the range of the kingdom, and watching them develop into characters that were different than how they were both originally thought to be was really cool.

It takes guts to completely pull the rug out from under your character, and that's what Bree Barton does with Mia. And she does it so freakin well. Mia is this know it all. And she's not afraid to tell you what she knows. From her knowledge of the hunter, to her knowledge of anatomy, she's a know it all and she's not afraid to tell you about it. But in what is maybe my favourite scene of the book, her knowledge, and everything she knows, is taken away. Miss Mia-Know-It-All suddenly knows nothing and everything she did know is not useful anymore. Taking that power away from her main character is a risk that totally pays off. Cutting Mia down to her bare bones, taking away her learned knowledge and leaving only her intuition is something that really comes in handy towards the end of the book.

I think the standout of this book is the characters. Mia is great, as is her sister, Angelyne. I loved their dynamic together. It was giving me all kinds of Wicked/Elphaba and Nessarose vibes, which I really appreciated. Some of the side characters I found were underdeveloped, but I expect to see them more fully fleshed out in book 2! My biggest character disappointment was that we didn't get to know Princess Karri more. It would have made the ending hit harder. Quin, though, is also a standout. I have dubbed him my new book boyfriend I will protect him. He's sweet, bisexual as all hell, and also a great cook. Yup. He's a keeper.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this. The political intrigue was cut with dry and biting humour, and while it was slow to pick up, the story really feels as though it's just getting started. I'm giving Heart of Thorns 4/5 stars, because while I really enjoyed the characters and the world, the pacing was really tough to get through. But I can't wait for the series to progress, and to find out where this story goes!

Happy Reading!

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