by Bree Barton
Series: Heart of Thorns #1
Published on July 31, 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Inventive and heart-racing, this fiercely feminist teen fantasy trilogy from debut author Bree Barton examines a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.
Mia Rose wants only one thing: revenge against the Gwyrach—feared, reviled, and magical women—who killed her mother. After years training under her father’s infamous Hunters, Mia is ready. She will scour the four kingdoms, find her mother’s murderer, and enact the Hunters’ Creed: heart for a heart, life for a life.
But when Mia is thrust into the last role she ever wanted—promised wife to the future king—she plots a daring escape. On her wedding night, Mia discovers something she never imagined: She may be a Huntress, but she’s also a Gwyrach. As the truth comes to light, Mia must untangle the secrets of her own past. Now if she wants to survive, Mia must learn to trust her heart . . . even if it kills her.
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For all its promises of magic, revenge, and adventuring, Heart of Thorns was. . . well, frankly, it was boring.
I’m super disappointed because it came off as this amazing fantasy and being described as “fiercely feminist” immediately caught my attention, especially after reading Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart. In this world, the women have no power but when the protagonist leave their close-minded kingdom, they discover a society of all women who challenge their way of thinking.
Not terribly original, and I wanted something more, or at least a twist on it. Throw in a bunch of tropes without really doing anything with them and the plot is already falling hard.
For the record, I love a good trope but the author has to sell it in the story.
The protagonist, Mia, is terribly unmemorable. I never connected with her and more often than not, she grated on my nerves. There’s really not much more to say about her. Mia’s love interest, Quin, made me enjoy reading those particular scenes a bit more because he was just truly a nice guy. Everything about him made me like him and so if he was in the scene, I enjoyed it just a bit more. He’s not the most interesting of people but I liked him more than Mia so. . .
As for the rest of the cast, they simply faded into the background. If there had been more points of view, maybe I would have learned a bit more to care about the rest of the cast (and see a point for the third point of view because it felt like this book should have been in first person, the 3rd PoV reading a bit awkward).
But my biggest issue with this book? The pacing. Everything else I could have pushed past but the pacing is all over the place. Heart of Thorns covers the span of weeks quickly but a day for what felt like ages. Info dumps ran rampant, but not ones that I was intrigued by — the nonsensical kind that dragged the story down. And the plot twists just didn’t keep me hooked. I didn’t have that “omg what happens next” feeling. I mean, the “twists” were fairly obvious for the most part. I wanted to be shocked but ended up guessing what would happen well in advance. It felt like the author wasn’t even trying to hide anything.
Near the 60% mark, when things got really bizarre, I nearly DNFed. But I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt and pushed through to the end.
I didn’t hate Heart of Thorns. Truly. It wasn’t a terrible book but it personally bored me too much to want to bother with the sequel. I may change my mind down the road but this one just wasn’t doing it for me though I’ll be interested to see what the author does with any future works beyond this series.