Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: Princess of Thorns (Jay)

AUTHOR: Stacey Jay
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press
PUBLICATION DATE: December 9, 2014
ISBN: 9780385743228
PAGES: 400
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: fairy tale spin-off; fantasy; romance
SETTING: Norvere and surrounding kingdoms
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS
SUMMARY: When her younger brother is kidnapped by the evil Ogre Queen, 17-year old Aurora, the fairy-blessed daughter of Sleeping Beauty, disguises herself as her brother and attempts to get him back.

WHAT I LIKED: (Eventually) engrossing. I had a hard time understanding the Ogre Queen stuff, but I loved the development of the relationship between Aurora/Ror and Niklaas. I waited anxiously for the moment when Niklaas discovered his friend Ror was really a GIRL and the princess his curse demands he marry VERY soon.

I like the fairy tale references and cameo appearances from a couple of characters, but I'm not really sure what they add to the story. This is a fantasy story that just happens to have a couple of fairytale references. It's NOT a fairytale spin-off in the same way Of Beast and Beauty is a spinoff. It does not follow any particular fairy tale other than some random name-dropping.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The Ogre Queen stuff didn't make sense to me. I get that the ogres need a briar-born child (Aurora or Prince Jor) to follow through with their plan to enact the prophecy. But what do the ogres think will happen once the prophecy is fulfilled? What is their plan for after? Are they wanting to kill/enslave the humans? Why would they care about that when the ogres are clearly bigger and stronger than the humans? And if they kill off the humans, what will the ogres eat?

It's a little slow in parts, particularly in the first 50 pages or so. Once I was into the story though, I was hooked.

The title. Why is Aurora the "Princess of Thorns"? She's briar born, which is an important part of why she is being hunted, but I don't think that's important enough to the story to base the title on it. The title feels meaningless, adds nothing, and doesn't differentiate it from any other princess quest story out there. She's never even called the "Princess of Thorns" in the story. I can also see me booktalking this with a student and not remembering the title. I have read and booktalked so many books, how could I possibly remember a title as unremarkable as this one? And how close does the plot sound to Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire) by Mark Lawrence?

The front cover. When I booktalked this title with my library students, they asked if this was Legolas on the front cover. Indeed.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It's not without its problems, but I am still glad I read it. Princess of Thorns is a fun story with great characters and lots of action.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. I recommend Of Beast and Beauty all the time in my library, and Princess of Thorns will be a great companion novel for my students who loved it.

READALIKES: Of Beast and Beauty (Jay); The Fairest Beauty (Dickerson); The Seer and the Sword (Hanley)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5--really liked the dynamics of the Aurora/Ror/Niklaas relationship
  • Engrossing: 4/5--hang in there at the beginning--it does get better
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5--the title and cover work against this one; may need booktalking to help "sell" it to students
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5--some pacing issues in first quarter

CONTENT:
  • Language: mild; ass, damn
  • Sexuality: mild-medium; prostitutes, Aurora binds her breasts, gender-bending, a few references to male body parts
  • Violence: mild; suicide (not described); ogres eat people
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; Niklaas drinks beer; herbs used to drug drink

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