by Bree Barton
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Mia Rose wants only one thing: revenge against the Gwyrach—feared, reviled, and magical women—who killed her mother. After years training under her father’s infamous Hunters, Mia is ready. She will scour the four kingdoms, find her mother’s murderer, and enact the Hunters’ Creed: heart for a heart, life for a life.
But when Mia is thrust into the last role she ever wanted—promised wife to the future king—she plots a daring escape. On her wedding night, Mia discovers something she never imagined: She may be a Huntress, but she’s also a Gwyrach. As the truth comes to light, Mia must untangle the secrets of her own past. Now if she wants to survive, Mia must learn to trust her heart . . . even if it kills her.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Heart of Thorns is the first book in a new fantasy series by debut author Bree Barton. In this world, there are women who are born with abilities although they usually don’t manifest for a number of years. It is only the women who have magic and they are called Gwyrach, demons because they are able to use their powers to stop a heart or enthrall someone with just a touch of their hands. I found the premise to be very intriguing and cannot wait to see how the series progresses.
The basis of this novel feels like a reaction to the inequality of the world today and the rise of feminism. Despite the fact that control over blood and bone can be used to heal, those in power fear women having power themselves and cast them as demons. It frequently happens in the real world that people in power are described using very different adjectives depending upon their gender. That being said, I don’t know that I felt very feminist or empowered when reading this book. It just didn’t quite get to that stage and lingered on the oppressed and unequal women stage – I am hoping that it is just part of the narrative that we haven’t gotten to yet, so our main character has to grown into herself and then we’ll get the girl power feels in the second book.
The author’s style of writing was very scientific and I felt that she brought that into her main character’s personality. I was surprised to read that the author didn’t have that background. Mia is ruled by logic and her brain, her desire to know everything and her rigid scientific view of the world. As the daughter of the most renowned Hunter of Gwyrach, Mia has only ever known of the evil that the women could do and her desire to eradicate them, especially the Gwyrach that killed her mother. While I understand her character’s motivation and personality, the constant overly scientific inner monologue drew me out of the narrative a lot. The character would frequently think to herself about the myriad bones in the human body, the veins and how to dissect a creature for study or healing. It just became too much rather quickly and could have been so much more enjoyable with a fair amount of editor intervention.
I am a fan of fantasies with a lot of depth, derived from both character development and world building. This didn’t quite hit the mark as I felt the supporting characters could be superficial. For example, the Prince felt like the initial conceptual sketch of an appealing character that hadn’t been fully fleshed out yet. I could see his promise and although he was probably my favourite character in the book, he just didn’t feel real to me. I think the book had so much promise and I hope that as the author grows as a writer the series is able to meet its potential.
I thought the world and mythology were interesting in the story. I just wish that the author was able to seamlessly weave it into the narrative, rather than it being a series of info dumps. It could have been fluid and instead, it drew me out of the story. The story itself took some time to get its footage and hook me, but by about the halfway mark I was intrigued by the plot and what was going to happen. Overall, I really enjoyed my read but the myriad issues that I had with the writing and characters made it a 3 1/2 or low 4 star read.
Bree Barton is a writer in Los Angeles. When she’s not lost in whimsy, she works as a ghostwriter and dance teacher to teen girls. She is on Instagram and YouTube as Speak Breely, where she posts funny videos of her melancholy dog.
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