Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1)

Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1)
Age Range
Release Date
July 23, 2019
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Inventive and heart-racing, this fierce feminist teen fantasy from debut author Bree Barton explores a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.

Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor won’t want to miss this gorgeously written, bold novel, the first in the Heart of Thorns trilogy.

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.

Editor review

1 review
intriguing YA fantasy
Overall rating
Writing Style
HEART OF THORNS is an intriguing YA fantasy that discusses the suppression of women with feminist overtones. Mia has simple goals - she wants to protect her younger sister and find the Gwyrach who killed her mother to dole out revenge. Gwyrach are females with magical powers of whom the whole kingdom lives in fear. As a girl, Mia has lived her whole life in gloves and sheltered away from the world - Gwyrach look like any female, but they have the power to kill with a touch. Thus, any females are not allowed to be without their gloves, and a special band of military are charged with hunting and killing them - even young children who have the power. Their hands are brutally claimed for the gruesome Hall of Hands.

Mia is betrothed to the prince, and she is not at all desirous of the match. As a girl, her father makes all her decisions, and once married, that right will fall to her husband. When things go terribly awry at the wedding, Mia finds herself on the run with the prince, and questioning everything she thought she knew.

What I loved: The magic here is incredibly intriguing, and the end has so many twists that I did not see coming. There are some interesting themes of women's rights, indoctrination, and suppression disguised as protection that really made this an intriguing book. The book also tackles the morality of power/magic and the way it is used as well as love - this encompassing feeling can mean so many different things to different people and in different contexts. I found all of this really thought-provoking, and I loved being surprised by the ending.

What left me wanting more: In terms of the romance, it felt a bit forced at places, although I did buy into it at the end. I also really wanted to learn more about the past as well as more about the magic they possess. We get bits and pieces as Mia learns them, but I still wanted more. There are also a few decision points that felt a bit like a leap of faith as they did not always seem to follow, but these are also points of growth that propel the characters forward.

Final verdict: HEART OF THORNS is an intriguing YA fantasy with interesting themes about feminism and suppression. Would recommend for fans of THE GRACE YEAR, ASH PRINCESS, and/or GRACE AND FURY.
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