Young Adult Book Review: The Thorn and the Sinking Stone by CJ Dushinski

Title: The Thorn and the Sinking Stone
Series: Thorn & Dagger #1
Author: CJ Dushinski 
Genre Type: Paranormal, Dystopian
Publication Date: March 10th 2015 
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Entangled Teen 
SUMMARY from Goodreads:

Warring families. Forbidden love. And danger they can’t escape.

Daggers. Roses. Cowboys. Boat Men. Survivors of Earth's Last War, four “families” vie to rule the dreary streets of Rain City through violence and blood. Valencia Hara, Princess of the wealthy Black Roses, is raised in warrior ways with sharpened steel. But she is no ordinary Rose. She is Cursed—tainted with the ability to see seconds into the future.

To avenge his father's death, Sebastian Leold, of the rival gang Two Daggers, must face off against the Black Princess, he with his dagger, she with her katana sword. Yet a secret from a shared past leaves him unable to kill beautiful Valencia; nor can she kill him. For they once knew each other beyond their blood feud…and they have more secrets in common than they know.

But in a world filled with vengeance and violence, there can be no room for love… 

The Thorn and the Sinking Stone is the first book in CJ Dushinski's Thorn and Dagger series and reminded me a lot of Romeo and Juliet with its rival families, only it's set in a futuristic dystopian world and has a surprising touch of the paranormal in the mix.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of Rain City and thought it was well done. It felt dark and gritty, and you had the sense that it was once a beautiful river city before the Last War destroyed so much. I kept picturing something along the lines of a port city you might find in Spain. The story opens with the now four great houses that rule Rain City with two in a desperate blood feud. I loved the unique details that were are given about each "family" especially the rival families of the Black Roses and Two Daggers. 

Told from both perspective, Valencia and Sebastian come from opposing families. They meet unexpectedly and are quite curious/intrigued by one another. Both feel trapped by the endless feuding among their families. Valencia comes from the house of the Black Roses and has been training since she was a child in the art of a Samurai and carries a katana sword.  She also is the carrier of the "curse" which gives us the paranormal aspect I was talking about. Sebastian comes from the Two Daggers clan. He is charming, boyishly good looking, and has the dangerous ability to wield a dagger with deathly precision which made him very appealing. But it was his voice, even more so than Valencia's, that really won me over and helped me to enjoy the story as much as I did. 

The story ended up being more romance driven, which I really enjoyed. These two had some nice chemistry that made me forget about any other issues I may have had. There's masked dances, sword fights and kisses all the while on the run from their families, the watchmen and even the legacy of the "curse."

"I'm already in your head," he whispered, "and you know it. I'm beating through your pulse. I'm the air you breathe, because we're the same. More the same that you are to any other Rose and more the same than I am to any Dagger. We share a different bond they can't possibly understand. They don't know what it's like for us. But we do. We understand one another like no one else possible could."

The highlight for me in The Thorn and the Sinking Stone was its great atmosphere and yummy forbidden romance that unfurled through alternating points of view.
But, although I enjoyed the book, I had higher hopes for Valencia and the overall world building. I wanted more kick-ass time with Valencia and that amazing Katana she carries around. I wanted more awesome Samurai moves. The world building in Rain City was great, but I kept waiting for the Cowboys and Boat Me, the other two rivalry families, to show up and add to the mix. I got very little, so I was disappointed in that aspect. I was also hoping for more interaction between the four "families" instead I really only got the interaction between the Daggers and Roses. CJ Dushinski writes very descriptively and I would have loved more details given on the Last War and more background. 

In the end, the age-old feud and bitter rivalry between the families kept me engrossed with some nice kick-ass action scenes and I enjoyed the forbidden romance between Sebastian and Valencia. Even though the plot felt somewhat predictable, and I had a few quibbles with the world-building and the Valencia's character, I still enjoyed the story thanks to the alternating point of views, great atmosphere and the surprise touch of paranormal. I'm curious enough to want to try the sequel in the Thorn and Dagger series.

My rating: 3.5 Stars. I liked it.

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Entangled Teen in exchange for my fair review. Thank you, Entangled Teen for the review opportunity!