Review of Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

PrincessofThornsPrincess of Thorns
By: Stacey Jay
Release Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publilsher via NetGalley

An electronic copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

The Story:
Princess of Thorns was the second book of Stacey Jay’s that I’ve read. I adored her retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Of Beast and Beauty and was so excited to see she was taking on Sleeping Beauty.

I expected this to be a retelling but in actuality it was more of an expansion to Sleeping Beauty. The main character, Aurora, was Sleeping Beauty’s daughter. The story was the slightest bit confusing in the prologue and first chapter just because I was wrapping my mind around the world and players. Once the story got started I was hooked and wanted nothing more than to read this book (why must I do other things when all I want to do is read??).

I absolutely love the girl disguised as a boy trope. I never get tired of this particular plot device and when it’s done right, which it is here, it’s so much fun to read. I loved the way Jay utilized it and made it work with her story beautifully. I felt that it was never obvious that Aurora was a girl dressed as a boy and was fully believable.

The adventure side of this story was fast paced and kept me riveted. I loved the action scenes and could easily visualize the fighting scenes. There was a good amount of adventuring which felt pretty typical to the fantasy genre but of course the writing made it fun and never boring.

Many aspects of Princess of Thorns have been done before- girl dressed as boy, curses, miscommunication and a kiss stealing the will of another person-regardless Jay was still able to give this book it’s own heart and mesh these together to create a story that I adored (even with my reading a ton of fantasy and seeing these things used often).

Have I mentioned I enjoyed this book?

It was such a pleasure to read and was perfect for what I needed right now. I wanted a fast paced, absorbing book that had heart and the sense of adventure. Jay gave me all of this plus a couple I could ship.

The Characters:
I loved, loved the characters in this book. Aurora was badass and perfect as the ‘boy’ Ror but also as the Princess out to avenge her family and save her brother. She was a true heroine ready to sacrifice to save others. I loved her struggle with the line between deception and truth and how much of herself to give. She was a well developed, likeable character that I immediately rooted for.

Niklaas was such a great addition to Aurora/Ror’s quest. I adored their banter and felt their connection early on. I loved his witty dialog and cocky attitude. He was so much fun to read and felt incredibly fleshed out to me. I also appreciated that he wasn’t just a side character there to help Ror on her quest, he was on his own adventure with very high stakes.

The villains of the story, the ogres, were wonderfully done as well. I loved that Jay gave them a mythology and appearance that stood them apart from other things I’ve read. They ate the souls of people and marked their bodies with symbols representing the souls they’d devoured. I loved this tidbit and would love to see more about them in a future book.

Final Thoughts:
Princess of Thorns was a wonderful expansion to Sleeping Beauty that kept me riveted to the page (or my phone in this case). I loved the characters and story and want more from this world (hoping for a novella or additional book).

Giveaway:

I’ve got an international Twitter giveaway going for a pre-order of Princess of Thorns.

Review for Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and BeautyOf Beast and Beauty
By: Stacey Jay
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Purchase:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

My Rating:
star

Summary (via Goodreads):
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

The Story:
Of Beast and Beauty is a incredibly creative, bold and entrancing retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast. Jay takes the classic elements and turns them on their head yet is able to keep the magic and fairy tale quality with a dash of science fiction.

The pacing was fast and as the story progressed I felt anxiety as I turned the pages, worried about the outcome and how Jay would wrap up her tale in the remaining pages. Not only was the story engaging the writing was eloquent and beautifully done. This book impacted me and I felt anger, love, fear…a mix of emotions leaving me easily wordless.

The Characters:
I have always been a fan of Beauty and the Beast. I never gave the story much thought but loved the idea of a grisly, frightening ‘beast’ being so much more. Jay was able to capture that aspect but also give her ‘beauty’ a depth I’m not sure has been achieved in other retellings.

Isra had a mountain of obstacles stacked against her and yet she was bold and brave. Though she is blind she didn’t let that stop her from finding ways to achieve the outcomes she desired. I also thought it was incredibly interesting to follow a blind main character since we didn’t get descriptions in the normal way. She couldn’t see the secondary characters so we learned about their characteristics slowly and I loved seeing them form in my mind as I read.

Jay writes from different character’s view points, Isra, Bo and Gem, giving us a well rounded look at the story. Gem had a wonderful voice and I really enjoyed seeing his internal battle play out. I felt that Jay did an excellent job giving each of her characters a unique presence and I never felt confused on who’s view I was reading.

Final Thoughts:
I had heard many wonderful things about Of Beast and Beauty prior to reading and I can confirm it was beautifully executed. Jay created and extraordinary retelling/reworking of a classic giving the characters unexpected depth. Not only were the characters vivid the story was entrancing.

 

Showcase Sunday #16

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

Won/Gift:

Thank you Krys! Bibliopunkk

Not a Drop to Drink by Mandy McGinnis

Purchased:

Vampire Academy     Of Beast and Beauty
Vampire Academy (book #1) by Richelle Mead and Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

For Review (via Edelweiss):

White Space    Into the Dark

White Space by: Ilsa J. Bick and Into the Dark #1: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain