A late posting today? Only because I had a hundred and ten things to do today, and then I had to set up the audio files for this. Sorry that it is so late, but without further ado.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton
Synopsis From The Book
In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.
But when Mia’s father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
Now, as she untangles the secrets of her past, Mia must learn to trust her heart…even if it kills her.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
What are books? I am not sure. This is one of these so called “books” about magic. lol I really like books about magic hunters who find out that they have magic. Something about that whole “having to rediscover themselves and all their prior preconceived notions” troupe is nice. The last time I read a book on this troupe was The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker. This book is longer than The Witch Hunter, and a very different plot from what I can tell. Plus, the whole “Trust your heart, even if it kills you” tag line, is a little worrying. But, I live for life and death stakes.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Well then. Wow. Okay. That was, fascinating. There was a lot to this book and honestly, most of the plot happens in the second half of the book. I’m lowkey angry about the book, but I guess I can’t be totally happy, with it. I just… wish for happiness. You know?
Mia is to be married to the prince of Glas Ddir in less than forty eight hours. She does not want to be, instead wanting to be a Hunter, but is forced to be by her father and the king. She knows Prince Quin does not like her either, being as cold as ice towards her. On the day of her wedding, a rogue arrow shoots Quin, and Mia saves him with magic she did not know she had. Suddenly her world is shattered. She who wanted to be a Hunter and hunt the Gwyrach (word for demon), is a demon herself. With only her mother’s journal to guide her, they must escape.
She and Prince Quin flee the castle realizing they are being hunted and are helped by her friend Dom. They are captured by Tristain, Quin’s cousin, and manage to escape (where Mia has to save his life again). Following the map they come to a ballon, and are taken to a refuge camp where Mia learns that the Gwyrach are actually just woman. They call themselves Dujia, and all woman (or most) have the capabilities of magic. It is here that Mia learns more about magic and herself.
She discovers, in time, that Quin always knew she had the possibility for magic, and that she may have killed her mother. When a dead swan comes to them, Mia knows they must return back to the castle to save her sister. Quin’s sister, and the rightful ruler to the kingdom, dies, and Mia finds out that her sister has taken over. Her sister has been honing her magic for years and Zaga, the woman her mother once loved, proves herself a different type of mastermind. When only Angie, Mia’s sister, or Mia can live, Mia understands that her mother paused her own life, and that Mia must do the same to survive.
So she does.
What I Liked:
Karri; I loved her, for the little we had. Beautiful woman who should have been queen. She was perfect. Studious, a fighter, protector of the people. Believer in equality. I adored her. Why did she have to die?
Quin; He’s pretty great. A prince who is pretty much open to anything and knows he shouldn’t be king. It’s a great combo and always is. I liked how he took everything in stride, and despite his fear, he learned to accept the world for its truths and the beauty of it.
Mia; Her entire emotional and mental journey was beautiful. She did not fully accept she was a Dujia, and had to take a leap of faith. Seeing and watching someone’s world views burn so drastically, is always interesting.
The Kingdoms; Not much here, but a lot to work with and a lot I want to learn about.
Magic system; Its interesting that its all so heavily invested in females and as a defense mechanism of sorts. Additionally, the fact that the magic manifests differently in all, but there are natural gemstones and minerals that affect it. The touch of two different words for the same thing was nice.
Angie/Angelyne; She was a great villain and I wish I could have gotten more of that, instead of her being double crossed.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Karri not to die.
The pacing; So the story is nice, and I blasted through the first half, pretty easily, but the second half is very plot heavy and dense. It is here that we learn a lot in the same time (page wise) as we learned very little before. While Angie’s betrayal struck me. Zaga’s did not.
Her mother’s journal handwriting; It was a bit difficult to read, and that’s saying something. I was able to read it (but it did slow me down) however it was difficult. I would ask for a different hand writing (though it is stylistic and beautiful) simply for accessibility.
Time Taken To Read
I’m so furious with Karri’s death. This only gets a 4.
‘ Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder.’ – first line of the story (this is such a great line because it refers to Mia and Angie all at the same time)
‘ If this were the sort of conversation that would fuel the next fifty years of marriage, she was tempted to take the buckles and stab herself. ‘ – Mia pg 17
“Hatred will only lead you astray. Sometimes love is the stronger choice.” – Mia’s mother, pg 25
“Secrets are just another way people lie to one another.” – Mia’s mother, pg 63
“The people you love are the ones you hurt you the most.” – Mia’s mother, pg 112