Thorn by Intisar Khanani
Expected Publication: 2020 by Hot Key Books
Genre(s): Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy
Thank you so much Pansing for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review! Thorn by Intisar Khanani will be available at all good bookstores.
Okay, I admit that I was a little daunted by how thick this ARC is when I finally got it in my hands, but 456 pages later and some moments in between spent crying? I am in love.
Thorn by Intisar Khanani is a solid and brilliant retelling of The Goose Girl (AT Type 533 for those who study folklore) by Brothers Grimm. Here, we find all the traits that belongs to this classic fairy tale, but fleshed out, diversified and given cultures and identities other than just ‘princess’, ‘chambermaid’ and ‘kingdom’. Of course, as all retellings are, there are some features of the original that have been changed. In this case, I think for the better.
The goose girl in this retelling is Princess Alyrra—meek, honest and so ‘common’, which can be annoying to anyone who’s not a fan of main characters like this. However, as the story progresses, she does as well. I think the character development for her is the most solid and believable one I’ve come across in all the retellings I’ve read previously.
Moreover, I completely adore how there is no insta-love in this book. In fact, the romance on Alyrra’s part is practically non-existent because it’s only in the budding stages, which makes it all the more believable and relatable. This, I also greatly appreciate because the focus falls on her growing as a character and on themes like how good is never only just good and bad is never only just bad. The pacing this book has is perfect for that, though it does feel unsuitable when the villain is involved. I think there needs to be a greater sense of urgency when the villain shows up, especially in Alyrra. Or, for the reason for the villain’s patience/why she can’t attack immediately to be reiterated (as speculations on Alyrra’s part, maybe) somewhere earlier so it does not feel like the villain is the side plot (even if she’s intended to be).
Lastly, this version of the ARC I received is riddled with typos and missing words/phrases, particularly in the first half of the book. It was rather annoying because I feel like I’ve missed out on some of the smaller details as a result of this. Nevertheless, since I enjoyed this book so much, I’ll definitely be picking up the published version once i’ts available just to give Thorn a reread.