Princess of Thorns, Stacey Jay
Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: December 9th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: E-ARC from NetGalley
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?
I really love fairy tale retellings so once I heard Sleeping Beauty was involved in Princess of Thorns I could not wait to read this. This book was so much more than just a retelling of Sleeping Beauty though. Our Princess Aurora is actually the daughter of Beauty and Prince Philip. Beauty and Phillip are long dead and Aurora is trying to rescue her brother from the ogre queen who is also her step-grandmother. A bit confusing right? I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about this book at the very beginning, but I was quickly drawn in. By the end, I was so into it that I almost missed my train stop trying to finish!
Aurora, or Ror as she goes by, is kind of a bad ass. If you have seen the Disney version Aurora is blessed by 3 fairies with beauty, song and rather than death with a sleep until she meets true love’s kiss. Stacey Jay’s fairy blessings are not so benign. In Princess of Thorns Beauty resisted having Aurora fairy blessed as an infant because the gifts can backfire on themselves cruelly. However when she has no other choice she blesses Aurora herself. Ror has been blessed with strength so she can hold her own in a battle despite her small stature. She’s blessed with mercy, though this frustrates her because she would not always choose to be merciful. Lastly, Aurora is blessed so that no man who loves her can act against her wishes. Quite a combination.
While disguised as her brother Ror meets Prince Niklaas who is looking for Aurora for reasons of his own. They combine forces to try to find her an army and pull off a desperate rescue from under the ogre queen’s nose. He was a bit of a pig at times, but I did really love Niklaas. He had a good heart and he just seemed like an accurate 17 year-old guy. I thought Niklaas and Ror were so great together-even when he thought she was a boy! I loved the spark between them and the snappy comebacks. The book flashes from Aurora, to Niklaas and to the mind of the ogre queen herself. The Queen’s perspective really put me off at first, but once you really understand what the ogres were up to they made sense and fit in well with the story.
I liked that Aurora was not perfect-there’s nothing so obnoxious in my mind as a character without faults. She’s loyal and brave and practical, yet she starts off headstrong and loathe to accept help. Thankfully as the story goes on she does mature and gain some wisdom. I would have liked to know more of Aurora’s backstory. Beauty and Phillip were only in this story in brief remembrances. I would have liked some of their story, though it certainly would be 100% different than the Disney fantasy. More of the fairies that she grew up with and more of the world in general would have been really cool I think. There were some really beautifully written passages to this book and I would have liked to see them describe the world outside Aurora’s adventure.
Bonus points for the other fairy tale references! I am so glad that this was a stand alone novel, but I am burning with curiosity as to whether Jay will tackle the story of Rapunzel touched on here! There is another red-hooded young lady I’d also love to read about.
Thank you Delacorte Press and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!