Release Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Fantasy
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?
PRINCESS OF THORNS by Stacey Jay is a deconstructed version of Sleeping Beauty versus a retelling. Sleeping Beauty is Aurora's mother who's Prince wasn't quite so charming. Aurora's father not only woke up Sleeping Beauty 20 years too early, which actually cursed her instead of bless, said Prince is also married to a barren Ogre Queen! For Aurora's entire life and safety, she's lived in the shadows together with her mother and brother until her father's death which put her in mortal danger. As the rightful heir, the Queen will not allow Aurora's ascension to her throne, not only that, there is an Ogre prophecy which entails that Aurora and her brother must be sacrificed for the Queen's race to live on.
Let me address that blurb a little bit, IMHO it's a little inflated, although PRINCESS OF THORNS is good it's more of a dark fairytale fantasy than an epic one. Don't expect a plot that's as complex and fantastical as Game of Thrones, there's a shortlist of players and the plot is focal to Aurora. We get alternating POV's from the Queen and Niklaas but even their chapters are still in relation to Aurora. It's more like the movie Snow White plot-wise, a little older than the Disney version and a few shades lighter than the original Grimm tale. My take on this is it's YA that leans more to the 16 and younger set than MYA in terms of tone.
Obviously I enjoyed PRINCESS OF THORNS, it has that enemies to friends to lovers trope and I found Aurora pretending to be a boy and shooting the shit with Niklaas entertaining until the latter found out "Ror" is The Princess Aurora he's planning to court and who's heart he plans to win. Awkward! Speaking of Niklaas, he has his own curse to bear. When he turns 18 he'll turn into a swan, thanks to his greedy father, to prevent him from taking the throne. He had 10 brothers who joined the aviary club previously. I liked this backstory as well and I wish there's another book that explores this part of the story. Now that Niklaas found his HEA with Aurora sans the feathers, maybe they can find a way to restore his brothers or turn them into wereswans or something. Bottom line is I wouldn't mind another book off this world.
PRINCESS OF THORNS isn't a bad gateway novel for me to sample SJay. I'm not sure about her previous fantasy novels but this one has that juvenile fiction feel to it, not something I would crave but it was a good break from "the usual", if you know what I mean. The plot might have lacked in complexities but I think its simplistic approach worked and made it easy to read. Also alternating POV's is tricky as it tend to hinder the development of the book but SJay managed to do it well in this one. And with Christmas around the corner, I think this could make for a cool gift for a daughter, niece, or friend who likes YA.