Title: Princess of Thorns
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Summary: 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?
At the start of this book, I was horribly confused and lost. Chapter one is Aurora’s past, when her, her brother and their mother were captured by their father’s stepmother Ekeeta, who just so happens to be an ogre. Which I guess is a common race in this land, as well as Fey. Aurora’s mother kills herself to pass on her fairy powers to Aurora so her and her brother Jor, can escape. Then we jump ten years ahead to where Aurora and her brother have been hiding and training for years, living with the Fey, but Jor has been captured by Ekeeta and Aurora is on a mission to rescue him.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well the problem was, we don’t learn a majority of that until a little further in, instead we get Aurora being woken up in some random place by some random super attractive guy who thinks she is a boy and off they go. We literally just get thrust into this world with not much to go off of, not understanding half of the names and countries they are talking about or what is even going on. I almost gave up just a few pages in because I was so lost and felt like I had seriously missed something. But by the end of this book, I was pretty happy that I stuck with it.
This book was written in the POV of both Aurora and Niklaas and I really enjoyed that because I fell in love with both characters. Niklaas is a prince whose father is immortal and placed a curse, so on their eighteenth birthday, all of his sons would be turned into swans so they couldn’t claim the throne from him. Watching his ten brothers before him suffer that terrible fate was no doubt discouraging, but Niklaas finds the witch who placed the curse and finds out that if he marries a princess before his birthday, the curse will be broken. So he sets out to find Aurora but finds her brother instead (but it’s actually Aurora disguised as a boy).
I adored Niklaas just because he was such a boy. Through a good chunk of this book, he thinks he is travelling with another boy, so he is vulgar and obnoxious and funny and I adored it. His constant foul jokes and tales of all the women he wooed had me cracking up and his brotherly affection towards Aurora was really sweet. Niklaas was definitely a scoundrel with a heart of gold. I also liked the sad side of him, the part that hurt from losing all of his brothers and hated his father, the part of him that was afraid to turn into a swan, it added great contrast to his light-hearted exterior.
And believe it or not, I actually found myself liking Aurora too. She was my kind of girl, fitting in well as a boy because she didn’t care and make perverted jokes and fought and had snarky comebacks. I loved her determination to save her brother, despite the fact that she was uncertain and afraid because the one thing she was certain of was that she couldn’t just do nothing. She was stubborn and acted without thinking sometimes, but still able to admit when she was wrong and fend for herself.
As far as the romance goes, it had it’s ups and downs. I liked it just because I loved the chemistry between Niklaas and Aurora, how good of friends they became before it was revealed she was a girl. Obviously Niklaas didn’t love her romantically as a boy, but I liked that he was thrown off balance because he wasn’t sure how to love her once he found out she was a girl. This book only takes place over about three weeks which isn’t long, but this wasn’t an insta-love scenario and it felt like a lot longer than that. So when the romance finally rolled around, it was a big decision and meant a lot to them because of what they had before. And I liked that they really viewed each other as equals because of the journey they went on together, they both knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
The main problem I had with this book was the plot. There was so much going on that I had a hard time keeping up. We had a million different things going on with Aurora, then a bunch of other things with Niklaas, and even the POV of Ekeeta sometimes which was just weird. To be honest, there was this whole main plot line to do with a prophecy with the ogres and Aurora bringing darkness, but I really didn’t pay much attention to the specifics because I was so much more interested in the actually journey and relationship between Niklaas and Aurora and each of their secrets. It was just hard to pay attention to everything when the author shoved so much stuff in one book, a good amount of it obviously set up for the intended sequel.
I did like though that a lot of this book was just the adventure of the two of them traveling around, getting into trouble, escaping, then traveling more. It was really fun and kept my interest, it just was kind of missing that feeling of danger through most of the book. They were traveling places to gather an army, so they had a purpose, but the sense of urgency was missing and most of the time, it’s not like bad guys were chasing them or anything like that. They were just kind of working towards where they needed to go at a steady place, dealing with problems as the arose. But I really liked the feeling of adventure it gave, like they were on a journey across the land, on some sort of quest, defeating foes and making bonds.
While the ending was a little too convenient for my taste (let’s just say that Aurora makes a really bad decision, which is conveniently fixed for her in a stupid, predictable turn of events) and wrapped up nicely with a big bow, it reminded me of the sort of happily ever after ending from a fairy tale, which is obviously fitting for this book. Despite some world building and serious confusion problems, I really loved the characters and their fun adventure across the land, and found myself wishing the book wasn’t over when I finished it.