Princess Alyrra’s strength lies in silence. Scorned by her family, she avoids the court, spending her time with servants. When her marriage is unexpectedly arranged with the prince of a powerful neighboring kingdom, Alyrra feels trapped. As the court celebrates her match, dark rumors spread about the unexplained deaths of the women of her new family. Alyrra begins her journey with mounting trepidation; betrayed while traveling, she seizes an opportunity to start a life away from court.
Walking away from a prince whom she doesn’t know should have been easy. But from the moment she sets eyes on him, Alyrra realizes that her freedom could cost him his life. Without any magical defense of her own, she is plunged into a lethal game of sorcery and deceit. Now Alyrra must decide whom she can trust and what she’s willing to fight for—before her silence proves fatal.
Blurb and cover from Goodreads
I had my eye on this book for awhile. The idea of a “The Goose Girl” retelling intrigued me. However, I had read another TGG retelling (The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale) and wasn’t sure it would be entirely new. I must now eat my thoughts.
I was highly impressed. Remember how I said I was worried about originality? While I could spot elements of the Grimm fairytale, it was a whole new spin. (I know people always say things like that, but I can’t help that it’s true.) The voice and the feel were unusual and I enjoyed the mix of middle-eastern and European customs and styles.
Princess Alyrra/Thorn is the most engaging main character I have met in a long time. All she wants is to be left alone and yet, when push comes to shove, she does step up and do the right thing. She is humble and compassionate and brave, though she doesn’t believe it. I greatly enjoyed watching her discover her inner strength to face her enemies and I was rooting for her all the way. One of my favorite things about her character was how, even after Valka had been downright sadistic to Thorn, Thorn still took pity on her and showed mercy. Compassion is a quality that seems to be growing scarce in modern MCs and it was exhilarating to meet one who has it in plenty.
Kestrin was what many would call “swoon worthy.” (While I don’t normally use that term, it seems fitting here.) Young, handsome, gallant, brave…did I mention he’s the prince? While I got a bit mad at him a few times, the greater portion of my reading was spent in agony over what would happen with him and Thorn. Not to give away the ending, but I was quite satisfied with the outcome.
Valka, the maid who betrays Thorn, is an excellent antagonist. Pampered, spoiled, selfish–she’s the kind of character we all love to hate.
Let’s not forget the Lady, the mysterious otherworldly being who starts all the trouble in the first place. As for details about her, you’ll have to read the book.
There were a bevy of other characters (Red Hawk, Falada, Violet, Laurel, Oak, Ash) who were all memorable and lovable in their own way. (I am really hoping to see more of some of them in the companion trilogy the author is working on.)
All in all, this book was awesome. Mind-bogglingly so. In other words, go get it. Right now. That’s an order. =)