I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings, remakes, knockoffs, etc. honestly they don’t even have to sound that good to appeal to me. Of course, reading them indiscriminately as I do I’ve inevitably run into some real disappointments before, but this wasn’t one of them.
As you might guess by the title Princess of Thorns is about Sleeping Beauty, or rather, Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, Aurora. As with many other books like this one Stacey Jay puts a dark twist on the tale, which always makes for some interesting reading, but I think the thing that really made this novel enjoyable for me was the world building that Jay put behind her Sleeping Beauty tale.
*some spoilers follow* In Jay’s version of events Sleeping Beauty was blessed by the faeries to be beautiful etc. and then put into her enchanted sleep. She was, of course, rescued by a handsome prince, who’s stepmother happened to be a troll. Unfortunately, Prince Charming wasn’t so charming and apparently he was stepping out on Sleeping Beauty despite the fact that they had two children together, their daughter Aurora and their son Jor. Of course, Sleeping Beauty doesn’t pick up on this until pretty late in the game because her handsome prince is keeping her and the children hidden away to protect them from his previously mentioned troll stepmother, but Sleeping Beauty becomes suspicious and takes her children to the capital to find out just what her husband is up to, only to show up just in time for the troll queen and her priest brother to overthrow the thrown and enslave the human population, all in an effort to fulfill a prophecy that a briar born child would help usher in the age of troll heaven, or something like that. Now guess who the briar born children are? That’s right. Aurora and her brother are the only two briar born children left.
When the trolls take over they plan to kill Sleeping Beauty and keep her children prisoners until the time comes for the prophecy to be fulfilled. But Sleeping Beauty has other plans. From her own experience she knows that fairy blessings nearely always come with a hidden curse, that’s why she wouldn’t allow the faeries to bless her children when they were born. But, locked in the troll queens dungeon she makes a hard choice. She gives up her fairy blessings, instead using their magic to bless her daughter with warriors gifts so that someday she can take back the kingdom. With the help of a wishy-washy palace guard Aurora and Jor are smuggled out of the palace to be raised by the faeries until they can take their kingdom back.
This is where the bulk of the story takes place. We jump back in when Aurora is seventeen, and she’s on a mission. Her little brother has been captured by the troll queen and she has to get him back because the time of the prophecy is almost upon them. But she can’t do it alone. Even fairy blessed as she is she’ll need the help of the handsome prince Nicklaas. Nicklaas is wrapped up in his own quest, a quest to find a princess to help him break a family curse. Naturally he wants Aurora to marry him, only a case of mistaken identity has him thinking that she’s actually her brother Jor. Naturally a series of hilarious, though somewhat predictable, adventures ensue as Nicklaas tries to get “Jor” to lead him to Aurora while Aurora uses Nicklaas to try and save her bother. Each is haunted by a curse that they won’t reveal to the other, but each needs the other to save themselves. Of course, because no one can ever just be honest with each other in these teen romances.
Alright, so the best part of this book is definitely the work Jay put into developing her fairy tale backgrounds, and Sleeping Beauty isn’t the only story that we see. Nicklaas and his curse come from another fairy tale (but I’m not gonna tell you which), and we also see stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel if somewhat briefly. I really enjoyed all of the fairy tale elements in the story, and the chemistry between Aurora and Nicklaas was great, but of course this book did have it’s issues.
I was a little bit frustrated with the end of the novel, I won’t say too much about how it ended, but it seemed kind of like a cop out to me. Plus there was the whole issue of it being a bit predictable, not to mention the way things often seemed to work out a bit too perfectly for our hero and heroine. Without going into too much detail one of the things that bothered me most was near the end when Aurora does something stupid and then a whole bunch of self loathing and suffering ensues. It just bothered me because I don’t like it when authors try to force me to sympathize with their characters by making them suffer in unreasonable and unnecessary ways. But that’s a personal thing.
Anyway, this book was a really quick read. I picked it up on a Saturday and finished it within about six or eight hours I think. It’s not a perfect novel, but it was fun to read, kept me engaged, and, in the end, I was pretty satisfied with it. If you’re looking for something challenging this probably isn’t the book for you, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re just looking for a fun read, or if you’re sucker for fairy tales like me. 4/5 stars for this one.