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?
Okay, so, I am a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, so when I read the synopsis for Princess of Thorns I was immediately intrigued. It isn’t a retelling in the usual sort – this one focuses on Sleeping Beauty’s eldest child, her daughter Aurora (and yes, her having the name usually given to Sleeping Beauty herself took some adjusting to) – but it actually used the original Grimm tale to set up the story (with the prince who rescues her having an ogre for a mother) so I knew we’d be getting something a bit more dark and twisted than the usual retelling. This just further enhanced my excitement, and made me eager to read the book. However, there were a lot of things in this story that I just … didn’t like. And one of the main ones was unfortunately Aurora herself.
This book has two narrators – Niklaas, a prince from a neighboring kingdom (his story comes straight from The Wild Swans, with a couple of changes), and Aurora. For the most part I liked Niklaas, although his views on women were sometimes off-putting. He was charming and steadfast and trying so hard to save himself from his family’s curse. He maybe wasn’t going about the saving in such a great way – he wants to find Aurora and marry her, her feelings notwithstanding – but as the book went on I really found myself quite enamored with him. Aurora, however, was not nearly as likable. She is somewhat whiny, and while yes, I get it, she’s trying to save her brother, so maybe she has a reason, she really goes far too long without telling Niklaas the truth, and gets him into some rather dangerous situations in the process because she’s not being honest with him. See, Niklaas and Aurora spend the entirety of the book together without him knowing she’s actually the girl he’s looking for. Which also got a bit far-fetched for me, but whatever, with fairy tales it’s often necessary to suspend your disbelief.
My biggest issue with this book happens near the end, when Aurora makes a choice regarding Niklaas that I just couldn’t get behind no matter how she tried to frame it and justify it to herself (and the reader). I was furious with her because she knew the risks and what might happen and went ahead and did it anyway. (I know, I’m being vague, but I don’t want to spoil). She could have just as easily been honest with him and – shocker of all shockers! – probably figured something out that didn’t risk him. The whole thing just really rubbed me the wrong way and put me off the rest of the book.
So, unfortunately, this particular fairy tale retelling just didn’t work for me. I liked the world and the way the two fairy tales were entwined, and I liked Niklaas for the most part, but I just couldn’t get behind Aurora at all. And when you don’t like one of the main characters – whose point of view you’re reading from nearly every single chapter – it makes for a rather unenjoyable reading experience. All in all I’d say give this one a pass.
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.