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Young Adult Fiction 378
riveting YA dark fantasy
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VIOLET MADE OF THORNS is a riveting YA dark fantasy. Violet is the Seer in Auveny, a role that she accepted after she saved the Prince's life when they were children. She had seen that it was to come, and she changed it. Not long following, the current Seer gave a cryptic prophecy from her death bed, leading the kingdom to believe that the Prince is cursed and his marriage could save them all.

Now, Violet is focused on her survival among the intrigue of court and her good standing with the king, who asks her to twist or create prophecies to strong-arm the prince into marriage. Violet and the prince, Cyrus, are enemies and they spend a great deal of time bickering, often in public. Violet begins to see the Fates in her dreams and they hand her a prophecy about the prince's true love at the upcoming masquerade ball.

The night of the ball, everything seems to go a bit haywire, and the next morning, Violet finds herself questioning everything she knows and her own future. She has also begun to consider Cyrus as more than a rival.

What I loved: This was a fast-paced and enthralling story about love/hate, power, control, trust, integrity, and survival. These thought-provoking themes give the reader much to consider amidst the fantasy back-drop of Fates, dreams, and magic. The reader sees Violet and Cyrus as well as the explosive way they come together, while also understanding the lack of trust and rivalry that has come between them.

Violet does not always do what is right - her integrity is first and foremost for herself and for what she believes is the good of the kingdom. This certainly has not earned her any friends. Having been under the king's thumb since she was child found on the streets, this has been her home and she will do whatever she needs to in order to keep it. While her decisions were not always what people would consider the "right" ones, they are understandable. At times, she seems the villain, because her life has brought her these tough decisions and a home for which she would fight tooth and nail, and the way that this becomes clear depending on whose perspective is compelling. Cyrus, with his narrow definition of integrity and sense of rightness, feels like the other side of the coin. While the reader never gets to see his perspective, like Violet, we see the hypocrisy at times and his parallel journey. I would be interested to see his perspective in future stories.

I was completely fascinated by the Fates and the way they play into this story. The way that the people view them and the way that they are, as gods, are at odds at times. Violet sees this juxtaposition first hand, as she too begins to understand their nature and their cruelty. Nothing is so simple as it seems at first glance. These themes around religion and the nature of humans and gods was also intriguing as it plays out throughout the story.

The romance was intense with a feeling like crashing and fighting that extended from other interactions. I was not totally sure if I bought into it at first as it seemed so sudden, but as the details are filled in, the deeper background begins to become more clear. The air of the novel felt much like a fairytale, and I loved the way that it was retold at the end in a way that made it clear the ways in which history can be twisted and infused with truths in such a way to make it practically untrue. It will leave readers reeling and eagerly waiting for the next.

Final verdict: With compelling world-building and sharp characters, VIOLET MADE OF THORNS is a consuming YA dark fantasy that questions humanity, trust, and morality. Highly recommend for fans of THESE HOLLOW VOWS, THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US, and TO KILL A KINGDOM.
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