Young Adult Book Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
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?
Sometimes you must fight for happily-ever-after.
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay is not so much a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but rather an enchanting blend of strands taken from the origins of various fairy tales, creating a romantic fantasy filled with curses, prophecies, quests, danger and forbidden romance. With touches from the original Sleeping Beauty and The Wild Swans, as well as the twist of switched identities (think Mulan), Princess of Thorns kept me well entertained and eager to read more from the author Stacey Jay.
A swan prince and warrior princess
Princess of Thorns begins with a curse cast by a witch and a fairy blessing that holds the possibility of a dangerous power. Prince Niklaas will turn into a swan at the age of eighteen just like his brothers, unless he can break the curse by marring a briar-born princess. With the help of a charm he is led not to the princess Aurora, but instead to her brother-or so he believes. Princess Aurora is desperate to free her brother from the Ogre Queen who holds him hostage. Gifted with fairy magic from her mother, Sleepiness Beauty, Aurora has the added strength and bravery of a true warrior, with a merciful spirit. Disguised, she is mistaken for her brother Jor by Prince Niklaas, who strikes a bargain with her Aurora (thinking she's Jor) and offers to help raise an army to fight against the deadly Ogre Queen in exchange for an introduction to the princess.
Danger, questing, switched identities and bawdy banter
A large part of the story takes place during Aurora and Niklaas's quest together, and it is one filled with delightful banter that is at times both bawdy and ribald. I found myself chuckling and smirking as Prince Niklaas decides to take Jor (Princess Aurora) under his wing, by means of enlightening him of the fairer sex. Through the alternating POV of Aurora and Niklaas, there is some great characterization as these two become strange allies and friends. There's plenty of danger with deadly creatures, feeding trees and the Ogre Queen's henchman along the way. Aurora can kick some serious butt with her ironwood, fairy staff surprising the prince more than once, who at first thinks Jor is a runt in need of his protection.
Fairy blessings, no matter how well intended, too often become curses
Aurora's been blesses by fairy magic, yet because of this she is also cursed at the same time with a heart no man she loves dare defy. One that threaten to turn those she gives her heart to, into a mindless devoted slave. My heart went out to her as she secretly experiences love and friendship with Prince Niklaas whom she can never truly give her heart to in fear of her enchantment. The romance was bittersweet at first, and left me wondering until near the end if the enchantment could be broken or was their loved doomed. Sweet and romantic, I couldn't help but hope for these two as friendship turns to more.
Beautiful prose and vivid imagery
Princess of Thorns is my first read of author Stacey Jay, and I can see why her writing is so popular, with its beautiful prose and vivid imagery, she easily sweeps the reader into enchantment, without bogging down the writing and pace. As a stand-alone, the story gave me nearly all that I wanted in a fantasy - fairy tale mix. A touch of world building, magic, danger and love were easily woven together for a lovely and entertaining read recommended to fans of fairy tale adaptions and light fantasy. I've already picked-up Of Beast and Beauty and can't wait to read more from this talented author!
My Rating: 4.5 Stars. I really liked it!
PLEASE NOTE: A copy of this book was provided by Delacorte Press in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you Delacorte Press for the review opportunity!