Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 201
engaging historical fantasy
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
A TREASON OF THORNS is a dark and enchanting YA historical fantasy. Violet comes from a long line of Caretakers, people who help the magical houses to expel their energy and remain safe/standing with the aid of a special key that keeps the magic (mortar) from killing them. She knows that she must put her house first, and she loves it dearly. She was exiled from her home as a young child when her father was sentenced to House Arrest, a condition which is deadly for Caretakers, as the key which allows them to handle the house magic safely is taken from them.

She knows that when her father dies, she will need to return to help the house as its Caretaker. However, Burleigh (Violet's house), like the other houses in England, are under the ownership of the King, who keeps the deeds secreted away, and who can control the houses- and thus the Caretakers. Violet must beg for the chance to be a Caretaker. When the King allows her to return but without the key, Violet knows she will have some difficult decisions to make. However, as she was raised to believe, the house comes first.

Burleigh is in disrepair and very unhealthy when Violet returns, and so, her path forward is very difficult. Dealing not only with politics by way of the King and his lackies, Violet must contend with the house, its magic that could kill her, and the decisions her father had made in the past. There is also Wyn, a boy which Violet grew up with but who was trapped in the house with her father during the house arrest. Twisty and unexpected, this was a slow-building and intense YA fantasy with themes of family, love, duty, and questioning the general knowledge.

What I loved: The book completely pulls you in from the first page with this new world and its many challenges. Like Violet, the reader becomes submerged in Burleigh, its idiosyncrasies and its truths. There are relatively few main characters, and the biggest is, of course, Burleigh, which makes for some intense character-building and deep storytelling. Violet is a precocious child and an inquisitive and obstinate teen/adult that make her three-dimensional and not always easy to like. However, through the pages, her emotions and complexity make her so much more real.

What left me wanting more: We get glimpses into the wider world, particularly through one of the side characters. I would have liked to see more of the other houses and the build of this unique world, but I do understand the focus and intensity given to the plot as centering only on Burleigh. I also would have loved to see more through Wyn's perspective- he's an interesting character and shrouded mostly for the mystery of it. As such, I felt like we did not get to know him as well as I would have liked to.

Final verdict: Darkly enchanting, A TREASON OF THORNS will captivate the reader into the small and magical world of Burleigh. This is a unique historical fantasy that I would recommend for fans of GILDED CAGE and/or THE WAKING LAND.
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