Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Silent Courage and Soft Heroin: A Review for Thorn by Intisar Khanani [Book Review]


But we're family here—we are. Your name fits right in with ours, so don't doubt it for a minute—and family looks out for each other.

TW: Physical and verbal abuse, emotional trauma, sexual harassment, mention of rape

The first time I read this book was when I received an ARC from Pansing, back in 2019. Ever since then, Thorn has been a great comfort read for me that I will reread whenever I fell into a reading slump. I love it so much to the point where I reread it twice this year! I have never written a review of this book on my blog, so here we are, and beware: I'm going to be absolutely biased.

Thorn is a retelling of The Goose Girl. Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the contempt and abuse of her own family, and when she is betrothed to the powerful Prince Kestrin, she has hopes that she will have a chance for a better life at least. When a sorceress robs her body and identity as a princess before she can reach the prince's kingdom, Alyrra embraces her new life as a goose girl, away from the cruel abuses. But she soon learns that Kestrin is different than what she had feared, and with both the fate of the prince's life and kingdom at stake, Alyrra knows she will have to stand up for what she believes in.

A soft and humble heroin

If I were to list every single thing that I love about Thorn, it will be endless. What I love the most about this book though, is Princess Alyrra herself. It was so easy to love and empathise her character and journey. Alyrra is a soft character, perhaps the softest main character I've ever read in a fantasy book; it felt refreshing to finally get a main character that is not badass and filled with hatred or anger. Don't get me wrong, I love badass characters that are confident with themselves, but encountering someone so soft as Alyrra, I felt seen. I was able to relate so much to Alyrra, and I love the silent courage that she possesses.

Being soft does not mean being weak or useless, and Alyrra clearly shows it. She suffered through domestic abuse her entire life, and instead of letting it bring her down, Alyrra let it shape her into someone better than her abusers. Do take note that apart from domestic abuse, sexual harassment, emotional trauma and rape were also mentioned, although not graphic. I love the way the author included these issues in the story and they were not romanticised at all, but if you're still uncomfortable with the things mentioned, it will be okay to avoid this book.

I also love how humble Alyrra is. Even when she was still a princess at her own kingdom, she treats her people and servants all the same: with respect. That is why it is not difficult for her to adapt with being a goose girl. In fact, the hard work feels better than being trapped with royalties and nobles that constantly deemed her as unworthy, simply because she is honest with her thoughts.

Although she is most definitely content living her life as a goose girl, surrounded with friends that truly loves her, I admired how much she still cares about the fate of Kestrin and the people of Menaiya. Her character growth is perhaps the most wonderful thing to read about in Thorn

Characters that are endearing

Apart from Alyrra, there are many characters that I absolutely adored in Thorn. Especially Falada. Falada is a talking magical horse—did I say, TALKING. MAGICAL. HORSE? Yes. Yes, I did. Falada is the first and truest friend that Alyrra has after she becomes a goose girl. Not only is he loyal to her, he is constantly there for her during her worst moments and gives her advices where it's necessary. I never thought I would ever love a talking horse as much as I love Falada.

And then there is the Wind. The Wind is a wind spirit that Alyrra befriended when she was a child, and just like Falada, the Wind is very loyal towards Alyrra. I cannot say much about its character as that will touch upon a spoiler, but the revelation about the Wind is absolutely my favourite part of the book. The Wind was also mentioned in Brambles, the prequel to Thorn, and you can read my review on the novella here.

Found family

Alyrra may have suffered through domestic abuse growing up, and she has no one to lean on when she ends up being robbed of her identity on the way to a kingdom she knows nothing about. But when she becomes a goose girl, she finds herself new friendsa new family. Sage dotes on her like a gentle mother, while Violet, Ash, Oak and Rowan loves her like older siblings. I am always grateful to these people for accepting Alyrra, for being kind and protective towards her. 

Sort-of platonic love

Another reason why I strongly love Thorn is that it does not let itself get blindly into romance. In fact, I can describe the "love" between Alyrra and Kestrin to be rather platonic. They care deeply for each other (FOR A GOOD REASON, which I will not spoil) and their friendship and trust for each other are more highlighted in the story. But it is also obvious that love will surely bloom for them after the ending of the story, as love that starts from a friendship often comes stronger. I'll admit that I was skeptical of Kestrin at first, but when he proves himself to be good, it is easy to love him.

♡ Great for beginners

There is just so much to love about Thorn, and I believe that this long essay review sums up my feelings without giving any spoilers away. The villains in this story are also traumatising but I love to hate them, so that's definitely a plus. This book is an easy read, which will be a perfect fantasy read for beginner readers. If you're interested in reading a retelling fantasy with a soft heroine that fights with silent courage, endearing side characters and subtle romance, Thorn will be the perfect read!

  • My previous reviews for Thorn: Here & here
  • My review on Brambles: Here


Title: Thorn
Series: Dauntless Path #1
Author: Intisar Khanani
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: March 24th 2020
Pages: 460

Synopsis (Goodreads): A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own.

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'

Post a Comment