- Title: Kingdom of Thorns
- Series: The Fey Collection #1
- Author: Katherine Macdonald
- Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
- Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
- Would I recommend: Absolutely! A most excellent fairy tale retelling!
Cursed at her Christening, Briar is doomed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her seventeenth birthday and plunge her kingdom into eternal slumber. Less than enthused about her fate, she fights to break it, but a hundred years later the kingdom lies at the centre of a forest of thorns. The curse is complete and only true love’s kiss will break it.
Volunteering in the place of his brother, Leo is determined to brave the enchanted forest and attempt to end the hundred-year-old curse. If he fails, the dark fairy, imprisoned within the Kingdom of Thorns, will be unleashed upon the world and a kingdom will fall to ruin.
Guided by a mysterious young ranger named Talia, he sets off on his quest, but the darkness isn’t the only thing that grows in the woods, and Leopold finds himself locked in a bitter fight for his life, his sanity… and his heart.
A tale of true love, inner strength, and the power of free will. No damsels in distress here; just action, mesmerising description, and delightful witty banter.
I do love a good fairy tale retelling, and I’ve decided no one does them better than Katherine Macdonald. Kingdom of Thorns is a wonderfully written, vividly imagined version of the story of Sleeping Beauty, one unlike any other I’ve read. Here, an enchanted sleep isn’t just a sleep, and nothing is what it seems.
The interactions between Talia and Leo are delightful to read. Leo has self-deprecating charm as a second son, but he doesn’t descend into self-pity. Talia is often brusque and sarcasm is her second language, but there is more to her than that. Their jibes back and forth, especially once they realize that maybe they feel more for each other than prince on a quest and forest guide, are lots of fun.
The dark fairy who cursed the princess is a menacing presence more often than a present and active character in the book, but that’s all that is needed. And when she shows up, she really is quite nasty.
I enjoyed Macdonald’s vision of how Briar tried to fight the curse and what effect that might have had. You think, oh, sleeping princess in a castle, her true love just has to find her and wake her up, problem solved. But I always thought it would be kind of ridiculous for a princess asleep for who knows how long to fall in love with the first guy who happened along and gave her a smooch – she wouldn’t know the first thing about him, how could he be her true love? And would getting there really be just as easy as walking into the castle? Macdonald fleshes all of that out quite nicely here.
I think this is my favorite of Macdonald’s books that I’ve read so far (and that’s saying something, because I adored Hades and Persephone). I laughed, I cried, I cheered. I want to read it again.