Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Monday, December 8, 2014
Title: Princess of Thorns
Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: fantasy
Series: none
Pages: 400
Published: Expected December 9, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 2 out of 5
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’m giving up on cross-dressing heroine stories. They obviously peaked with Alanna and Mulan and now all we’re left with is…Ror.

A lot of people don’t know that in the older versions of Sleeping Beauty, there’s a second act. Beauty bears the prince two children, L'Aurore and Le Jour, (Dawn and Day,) but while the prince, now king, is away, they’re taken by his Ogress (step?)mother, who wants to eat them. A kindly cook swaps the children for lamb and goat and sets them free, (shades of Snow White,) and though Beauty offers to slit her own throat because she thinks they’re dead, the cook is also able to save her. The Ogress then tries to kill the family in a tub of vipers, but the king arrives in time to rescue them, killing his (step?)mother in the process.

In this version, the prince is murdered by the Ogres while he’s away at war, and in an effort to save Aurora and Jor, Beauty slits her throat to pass her fairy magic to a six year old Ror. Rather than bless her with beauty and grace, instead the child gains strength, mercy, bravery, and the accidental ability to turn men into slaves. The story takes place eleven years later, mere weeks before, according to Ogre prophecy, Aurora will bring about the end of the world.

That sounds amazing, right? And it is. There’s nothing wrong with Princess of Thorns’ plot that removing the romance would not fix. Unfortunately, in addition to ruining girl-disguised-as-a-boy stories for me, this book has ruined bickering love interests. There’s nothing charming about Ror and Niklaas’ arguments. They’re mean spirited. Niklaas is a chauvinistic bore convinced he can force any woman to fall in love with him. Ror is an emotionally stunted brat, incapable of telling the truth even when life and free will are on the line. They are both perhaps the most stubborn, obstinate characters in literature. Every single one of their problems would be solved by talking to each other like adults. I never felt a reason for them to come together at the end. There’s lust, but no love or respect. The “romance” is actually quite depressing.

And then there’s the writing. Apparently if you can’t make us feel the love between your main characters, just have them spout purple prose in run on sentences. That totally makes up for the fact that they’ve only known each other for three days and have lied to each other the entire time. Additionally, there are a lot of weird word choices. Sentences like, “with a groan muffled by my startled ribs,” don’t even make sense. The most egregious comes when Niklaas finds out Ror is actually the princess Aurora, (why would Jor go by Ror, Niklaas? WHY?!) "[H]e pulls away like my fingers are made of fire. Or feces. Fire and feces mixed together." This is not a joke. This is not an exaggeration. This is a line that made it into a published fantasy novel. LIKE FIRE AND FECES MIXED TOGETHER.

The only good thing about the book is the third POV from the Ogre queen, which fleshes out the villains and gives an excellent example of the quote, “a villain is a hero in his own mind.” Ekeeta is a terrifying religious fanatic who is trying to bring about the end of the world so that she may usher humans and Ogres alike into the paradise of The Lost Mother. Except it turns out that she’s just a puppet for the real big bad, illustrated by a complete 180 in her motivations off screen. Even when I’m trying to say nice things about this book, it just won’t let me.

I’ve been looking forward to Princess of Thorns for more than a year, and the fact that it’s such a disappointment is painful. This book had the opportunity to take fairytale retellings to an action-packed place, but unlikeable characters and too much focus on the romance keep it from ever getting out of first gear.

1 comment:

  1. That is so disappointing! Romance can definitely ruin a great book if it's not written well or you're just plain not invested... it's funny to see how subjective books are because I read a 5 star review of this recently! I might check it out from the library but I have a feeling I'll react the same way you did.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.