Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton | Review

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: July 31, 2018 (out today!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Heart of Thorns #1
My rating:

In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Coming off the high that was The Cruel Prince, I was really excited to read another YA fantasy and I was so happy to find that Heart of Thorns was up next in my TBR.

I think it's because I read primarily romance novels now (and mostly contemporary ones at that) that reading a YA fantasy and being immersed into a different world feels so... invigorating! And, with a giddy feeling in my heart, I began reading Heart of Thorns.

I went into Heart of Thorns fairly blind--nothing else besides reading the synopsis. I'm glad I did that because I feel like if I knew more details about it I wouldn't have been as motivated to pick up the book again once I set it down. The first half of the book was pretty slow because it was somewhat info-dumpy and predictable as in a lot of the plot elements were very trope-y that it's easy to know what will be revealed next. While this didn't necessarily took away my enjoyment of the story it did dampen my giddiness a little bit. But, once I got past the first half of the book, things got a lot more exciting and I had that invigorated feeling again where I couldn't stop turning the pages fast enough. I love the twists and the turns the story took and by the time I finished I needed the second book in my hands right then.

Mia, our main character, is admittedly very similar to many other YA heroines--similar personality and motivations. I liked her, but I also recognize that there wasn't really anything about her that felt special to set her apart from other YA heroines. However, I thought the love interest Prince Quin and the side characters stood out more. Quin was bisexual, which I thought was refreshing in a love interest, and he's just an overall lovely person. Besides Quin, there were other side characters who were gay as well as a character with a disability, so kudos to the author for including those reps.

As for the world, I thought the author did a really good job describing it. With her descriptions, I could easily picture the setting in my head. I thought what we learned about the world, its history, and especially the magic system was really interesting. What we got was just the tip of the iceberg and know we're going to learn even more in the next book in the series. One of the things the drew me to this book was that it was pitched as "fiercely feminist" and there was a stronger emphasis on feminism in the later part of the book and in certain elements like the magic system.

Even though I had some issues they were minor enough that they didn't really take away my overall enjoyment of the novel. There was a lot to like, like the interesting world building, inclusion of different reps, the feminist elements, and the action in the later half of the book. Heart of Thorns was a great start to the series and I can't wait to see what's next for our characters.

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