Title: Princess of Thorns
Author: Stacey Jay
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 3.88
Published: Dec. 9th, 2014
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?
A combination of Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales? Not very likely, but that doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. Princess of Thorns is not as dark as either of these tales, though it has its moments. It is a fantasy/adventure/romance that could be very well turned into a Disney movie by its own right (and while Disney movies can be dark they aren't incredibly so). Princess of Thorns tries really hard to break boundaries and convey a positive message for both girls and boys, which I am all for, though in doing so it creates its own little perfect piece of the world in which girls can just flaunt how awesome they are without being secretive about it and males will just go with it. It is a nice thought but not very realistic for the time it is set on. It is by all rights a modern Disney fairytale retelling.
I highly enjoyed the relationship between Aurora and Niklaas. Aurora is nothing like her mother, the Sleeping Beauty. Aurora is plain were the Sleeping Beauty was the fairest of them all. Aurora is fairy-blessed with strength, agility, and basically kick ass warrior capabilities. Aurora simply kicks ass, though she also has faults. Like for example she cannot kiss a boy without having him loose his will (I sort of cringe at this because isn't it cheesy? Like, couldn't her curse be something un-romantic like?). That kind of sucks, but if you are to be queen you kind of need the other abilities more. Anywhoo, Aurora spends most of the novel posing as her brother in order to her Niklass to help her save her "friend" from the grasp of the evil ogre queen. So they develop this relationship as friends that is fresh and endearing. They spend most of the novel taking jabs at each other and one-upping each other. Which is why it is hilarious the moment Niklaas realizes she is a girl and not the little scrawny guy he considered a little brother.
Niklaas is this kind of single-minded fellow at first. He wants to marry Aurora to save his ass from his evil curse and he kind of doesn't care if she likes him or not. Well, he figures she will because he is irresistible for women (aren't all princes'? *barfs*). But this highly into himself guy proves to be one of the good ones. He may not be completely evolved in the way he thinks about women (though you find out he will certainly have his world turned upside down) but he is honorable and good and funny. He treats women as they are "supposed" to be treated, but like I said this is a modern Disney retelling so soon enough he will learn that women deserve the same sort of respect as his fellow brothers in arms. He grows, painfully so (the boy is very confused) but at least he recognizes the error of his ways.
The bad guys of the tale, Ogres, had a good backstory. They were here long before the human race and so they have evolved in order to blend and put the little humans at ease (the better to eat your flesh if you think they are tame and just). Now they have learned how to hide their diets (they used to eat humans, now they just eat human souls). Although at the same time they aren't completely evil, nor are they all the same. Their race is as complicated as the human race can be. I liked that about them because it shows they aren't one-dimensional. The ogre queen in particular had a lot of doubts and fears. She questioned her path, and what she was doing because of her brother's prophesy. The ogres are incredibly religious, and they do things blindly based on hope that the mother of their race may rise once again. It is twisted. While the ogre queen's dialogue is annoying (she spends a lot of time talking as a "we"; like they are various people inside her) learning her side of the story only increased my enjoyment of the novel.
There is magic, evil ogres, curses, quests... pretty much everything you need for a good fantasy adventure. The romance got too mushy for me at times, specially by the very end. I love how these characters bickered a lot, but by the end I was just tired of all the "But I love you!"/"No you don't, how could you?" that went on. Give me more ass kicking I say. Also the ending kind of was too easy if you can believe it. Events transpired that made a key player change their minds regarding their actions and then the world was saved.
Princess of Thorns was a light quick read which has the airs of being a Disney fairytale but it isn't technically about the Sleeping Beauty. It tries, it succeeds, and then you move on. I liked its overall positive message and girl power but I can honestly say I wont think much about it after this review is over. It is a book for the moment.