Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
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?
What I Liked:
I feel like I have been a "fan" of Stacey Jay for a really long time, without actually reading her books. I'm apathetic about her Juliet Immortal series, but I've always wanted to read Of Beast and Beauty, and now, this book. I'm a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, books based on fairy tales, original fairy tales, etc. So, I was all over this book when I saw that, one, it was by Stacey Jay and two, it was fairy-tale-based fantasy.
Princess Aurora is fairy-blessed by her mother passing her gifts to her, but the gifts are a curse of a sort. Aurora has the ability to steal the will of anyone she kisses. So Aurora won't kiss anyone else, after Thyne. Dressed as a boy, Aurora and her brother Jor live with the fairies, until one day, Jor is captured by the ogre queen. A human prince finds Aurora, and believing her to be Jor, makes a deal with her: he'll help her find her way to the Feeding Hills, if she will bring him to Aurora (he believes that she is Jor). Bu the road to regaining her throne - and Niklaas obtaining Aurora's favor is not straight and narrow. Who will survive, and who will win?
Right from the start, I knew that the intricacy of this world and its history would leave me breathless. It's fantasy, and it's amazing. Jay adapts the worlds of Sleeping Beauty and creates her ow fairy tale. Sleeping Beauty is Aurora's mother, and Aurora is the heir to the throne of which the ogre queen currently has taken possession. Jay does a fantastic job of setting up the history and timeline of events of this novel, I was impressed by how well the world was developed!
I was rooting for Aurora during this entire book. Not once did I completely not understand her decisions or motivation. I felt for her as she pretended to by Jor, using her fairy ways to make excuses for the long hair and privacy when bathing and slightly more feminine ways. Niklaas knew that Aurora was very feminine-looking for a boy, but he never suspected that it wasn't Jor. Nevertheless, I really felt for Aurora. She did an amazing job of pretending, of hiding herself.
Aurora is pretty kickbutt. She has incredibly powers thanks to her magical gift, but she is also very brave and determined. She and Niklaas argue all the time, because both are stubborn, and want their way to be done. When two royals get together... it's especially funny because 60% of the book is spent with Niklaas believing that Aurora is Jor - and Aurora has to go through the journey to the Feeding Hills listening to how much Niklaas wants to marry her (but he doesn't realize that it is her).
I really like Niklaas. He is also brave, but in a calmer, more rational, peaceful way. His life hasn't been easy at all. All eleven of his brothers have been turned into swans upon turning eighteen, because his father had his sons cursed so that none would ever ascend his throne. Niklaas wants to escape the curse by marrying Aurora, an heir to a different throne. But Aurora doesn't ever want to marry Niklaas, because of her gift and ability to take away the will of whomever she kisses.
The romance is so subtle in this book. Again, about 60% of this book is spent with Niklaas thinking that Aurora is a boy. So, for 60% of the book, we have these two as friends, good friends, like brothers. I actually really like this setup, because they really get to know each other - especially since Niklaas believes that Aurora is male. While their relationship is built on lies (on both sides), the core of the relationship is a strong friendship. And then Niklaas finds out. And then he's mad. And yet... there is still so much between them.
I really like the plot of the story, dealing with Aurora trying to get her throne back, and Niklaas running from the curse. I wanted to know how both would get what they wanted, because both seemed to have impossible goals. This book wraps up really nicely, as a standalone should. I won't say anything specific, but I liked the ending, all around!
What I Did Not Like:
While I really liked the ending, I was a bit confused about some of the events. I can't say anything because then I'll be spoiling things and I don't want to spoil anything. But I was confused as to what specifically happened to the ogre queen in the end. Also, why she did what she did, in relation to Aurora. Basically... what? I need clarification. Or possibly a re-read.
Would I Recommend It:
I would recommend this novel to any fantasy lover out there! Or if you like fairy tale retellings! Or if you like a sweet romance that isn't just a romance! The subtleties are beautiful in this book. There are so many beautiful things about this book! I'm so glad I gave it a shot.
4 stars. My first Stacey Jay novel was a huge success! I'll definitely be going back to read Of Beast and Beauty at some point... just need to obtain a copy soon!
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