The story opens with Zaina being transported to her soon to be husband. She’s not happy, slightly scared, and more than a little angry at the situation her “mother” has put her in. Like a rose, Zaina has both beauty and thorns. Her life has been anything but easy, and now she is sent to marry a man she has never met for a purpose she isn’t sure she entirely understands. Her life up to this point has been to do whatever Madame (“mother”) has asked her to do in order to protect her sisters. If I had to describe Zaina in one word, I’d say broken, but like fine china, she’s been carefully repaired, the cracks only enhancing her beauty.
Einar is another story entirely! King of a wintery Northern kingdom, he initially comes off as cold and uncaring. With every interaction though, you quickly see that isn’t the case at all. Einar stole my heart little by little as more of his story and history are revealed. I love how the authors show his love for his servants. This says so much about the man, even when he seems to be unable to stand Zaina.
The story itself focuses on Zaina and Einar’s fledgling relationship and the mystery surrounding the castle and its inhabitants. Told entirely from Zaina’s perspective, you get a sense of her loneliness and despair over what Madame has asked her to do. While we are unclear what her mission is, it is clear from the start that a happy ending isn’t in sight for poor Zaina….or is there?
Overall, I loved Of Thorns and Beauty. I could not read it fast enough, and if I’m being completely honest here, I’ll be going back to reread it soon. I found myself fully immersed in Zaina’s world, both mesmerized at its beauty and haunted by its mystery. I cannot recommend this one enough!