Book Review: Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

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Heart of Thorns was one of those books I wish I hadn’t read any reviews of prior to picking it up. I received it in my BookishBox Crate themed “Lady Monarchs” (which I really liked!!) and was excited to read a YA fantasy book with strong feminist ties.

The beginning didn’t blow me away. The story starts with Mia Rose getting ready to marry her future husband, the heir to the throne. However, she doesn’t like him at all and she is extremely unhappy with her father for forcing it to happen. Although her younger sister Angelyne is very sick, Mia makes plans to stage their escape out of the castle before she is forced to marry a boy she doesn’t care about.

Mia dreams about joining the Hunters who her father is captain of. She has been training for years and has learned the ins and outs of anatomy in order to be the best (which is one of the things that fascinated me about this story and I wished the author had made a bigger part of the book). What she doesn’t plan on happening is learning that she holds magic… the very magic that exists in the Gwyrach. And the Gwyrach are the ones being hunted.

It seemed pretty tropey (it is a cross between hate to love, girl has magic she doesn’t know about, etc) but after about 2/3 of the book, the feminist themes start to appear and I really got into it.

“Men have always been threatened by the power of women”.

Mia and the prince end up traveling to a different part of the country where Gwyrach live without fear of being killed for their magic. She begins to acknowledge how beautiful magic really is and learns to harness her own healing powers. When she speaks to Lauriel about her Mother’s past, Mia finds out much, much more than what she bargained for. This part of the book was certainly one of the best, and this is where the feminist parts of the book are the most apparent. We begin to hear about how magic was wielded by women due to them being oppressed by men, which I LOVED. Had this knowledge been more apparent at the beginning/ been a bigger part of the book as a whole, I think it would have made a huge difference in the story line. I can certainly understand why someone would not love this book for the first 250 pages because it wasn’t all that interesting until the end.

I ended up giving this one 3.5 stars (it would have been just a 3 if the ending hadn’t redeemed itself). The didn’t guess the ending at all, which was surprising because the first half seemed like nothing new as far as YA fantasy goes. I think that if you can get past the first half, you may stand a chance at liking the ending.

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