Thorn

Thorn

by Intisar Khanani

Paperback(New Edition)

$9.99

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Thorn 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, absolutely loved it. It’s an object lesson for me, actually, in not pre-judging a book, because this one ticks so many of my ‘no’ boxes: it’s YA, it’s a fairy-tale retelling, it’s first person present tense (“I back away...”, “I gaze at him”), it’s more or less a romance, it’s about a princess who doesn’t quite fit in, it has villains with no redeeming characteristics. Had I known all that beforehand, I would never have touched it and I would have missed a lovely, lovely story. As it was, it popped up on a list of free books, I started reading the sample and just kept reading, couldn’t put it down, in fact. For those who know their fairy tales, this is a reworking of the Goose Girl story. I didn’t know anything about it, so maybe I missed a few subtleties, but I felt it worked perfectly well without any prior knowledge, and apart from a few oddities (like the talking Horse!) there was nothing in there that couldn't be found in conventional fantasy. One of the great strengths of this book is that the characters all feel truly rounded, so even though they are fulfilling traditional roles (the princess, the prince, the witch and so on) they have great depth and believable personalities. The villains seem at first glance to be simplistically cruel and evil, but they all have enough backstory to make them credible, if not exactly sympathetic. The magic in the book is quite powerful, but the fundamentals are explained clearly enough to be believable, even the talking Horse. The author has thought everything out very carefully, and it works so well that when the heroine is rescued by magical means, it makes perfect sense. Not that she has to be rescued very often, mostly she is perfectly resilient and self-sufficient, and manages to get herself out of trouble and help others as well. I liked, too, that the magic is simply an integral part of life, everyone accepts it and it’s properly regulated. Interestingly, there is also religion, never explained or central to the plot, but just there, as a natural and perfectly normal thing. There are also social customs which are alluded to without full explanations, like a system of debt between people (if someone helps you out, you owe them a debt of comparable value). At one point there’s a discussion of a gift, and whether it incurs an obligation (a debt) or whether it’s just a gift, freely given, and a decision is reached without any attempt to explain the ‘rules’ of such an arrangement to the reader. I rather like this relaxed attitude towards world-building. Some things just are, and don’t need to be elaborated. The character of Alyssa, the princess, is central to the story, naturally, and the first person narration makes it imperative that she is both likeable and believable. I feel the author pulls this off magnificently. Of course Alyssa makes mistakes sometimes, but she copes well with the strange events which overtake her, and is strong-minded, caring and intelligent without ever turning into the tedious type of kickass female protagonist so often depicted in fantasy these days. On the contrary, she often feels overwhelmed and suffers a great deal, but she always tries to do the right thing, as far as she can. There is a certain amount of angsting, but it's actually understandable, given Alyssa's predicament. The plot rattles along very nicely, with some unexpected twists and turns. There are villains, of course, so bad things happen, but there are also friends who help out from time to time, just as in real life. Also realistic is that physical encounters have physical effects - if you roll down a cliff, for instance, or get beaten up, there will be cuts and bruises, maybe even broken bones, and time needed to recover. The climax is a bit of a show-stopper, a wonderful outbreak of magical manipulation with everything at stake, and no real certainty of how things will go. And the author neatly side-steps the clichéd ending. It's a fairy story, so of course good triumphs over evil, but the way that is achieved is refreshingly different. And there's not the obvious happy ever after, either. Rather, there's an acknowledgement that a lot has happened and there are bound to be scars, and a tentative sense of moving forward. This book surprised me. It may be YA, but it addresses some very profound issues, like the nature of justice, the corroding effect of revenge, questions of loyalty and trust and honesty, and the inner goodness (or not) of people, regardless of what they look like, or their rank. The romance element follows a traditional path but with great originality and commendable restraint. The writing style is eloquently literate, and I barely noticed the use of first person present tense. I had a very few minor quibbles - there were a few places early on where I wasn't clear about relationships or what exactly was happening - but nothing major enough to spoil my enjoyment. A terrific read. Five stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG. This book was incredible. The plot and story were wonderful, but the characters especially the Princess Alyrra were what made this story so strong. She is possibly the first heroine I have ever had the pleasure to read who is so solid a character. Early on in the book the Prince discovers the Goose Girl's identity,  and for most of the novel it's not the Prince that sets the pace of her being given her due right  as Princess, but Princess Alyrra. She doesn't want the throne. So she avoids it, she knows she's been discovered as the true princess but until she has grown mentally and emotionally she pushes the throne and title away. She is the one who decides on her future. I have read other goose girl novels- and even in general- novels never have so strong a heroine- usually her actions are dependent on someone else's most likely a male, but here in this novel the heroine is truly strong. She is possibly the strongest female protagonist I've ever read. And the writing is so beautiful. Intisar Khanani you are truly an incredible writer. I have fallen in love with your words and can't wait to read the rest of your work. I only wish there was more to read!
WriterAlina More than 1 year ago
Fantastic! A tail of a unique heroine that I would like my future daughters to have as a role model. Alyrra’s not a swashbuckling heroine who gains physical fighting skills to defeat her foes, but a young woman who sharpens her unique strengths to overcome difficulties. Her wits, powers of speech, kindness and warmth toward others, and innate sense of justice enables her victory. I’m not as familiar with the story of The Goose Girl as I am other stories such as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but I don’t really think it matters. This story stands strongly by itself. It’s the story of a princess who doesn’t feel like a princess but who, by the end of the story, realizes that she is a true queen - at least in spirit if not in name. This is a story about arranged marriage, magic, justice, and the power of one’s true spirit. Princess Alyrra starts out as a girl who loathes courtly gossip and intrigue and wishes to be free of her prickly mother and hateful brother. The Menaiyan king comes seeking her hand in marriage for his son, Prince Kestrin. You learn early that Alyrra is a gentile soul, who is very introverted, perceptive, and thoughtful; she’s aware of the intrigues that play out around her but she feels powerless to do anything about them. Bound by duty to her kingdom and her family she agrees to the arranged marriage. But treachery strikes Alyrra when she’s cursed, forced to switch bodies with a handmaiden and ultimately doomed to the life of a goose girl. Alyrra’s transformation from princess to goose girl almost seemed natural, due to her demure personality, her desire to not participate in court life, and her wish to live a life that is her own. The most exciting aspect of the story was watching Alyrra grow and realize that she wants her position as princess and fights for it. I found the end of the story quite powerful and neither Alyrra nor Kestrin walked away unscarred from their experience. By the end of the novel I was excited for how soft and yet strong Alyrra became and I was proud that she fought for her prince in her gentile yet strong manner. She trusted him to be a good person, and he too fought for the goodness in his own heart. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get my kiss at the end of the story, but there was a great bollywood moment where I was left feeling happy as if they had.
bookhimdanno More than 1 year ago
I never know what to expect from a CreateSpace book…it is a crap shoot to be sure. Well I have to say I was shocked when I picked up this book just to give it a few pages(I like to do this with new books to see what they are about and so forth) and didn’t put it down until I finished it. I wanted to know what would happen to Thorn and the princess and the kingdom and the curse and the ….. Wow I was shocked at how this book pulled me in completely and I couldn’t let it go without knowing what happened. I stayed up way too late finishing it and I loved it. Fantasy is not one of my favorite genres, but this book was fantastic. It reminded me a bit of Amanda Hocking….hummm another self-published author who is fantastic and therefore no longer self-published. Thorn is a character you will come to love and yet still want her to do more. The life that is thrust upon her makes her take a double take and choose the easier route and yet is it really easier? The prince confuses Thorn and yet in the end you find out why. Valka is someone to hate, a good book needs someone to hate and she is dreadful. Thorns brother and mother are a piece of work. The other characters that fill the pages are interesting and multi-faceted. A few deaths will cause you to tear up and wonder Why? But they all play apart in this book and in making Thorn who she becomes. Thorn may at times come off as too good to be true, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to think that people really could be that nice? I have met a few that make me think it’s possible. You will fall in love with her and understand why so many others in the story have fallen likewise. This is a fairy tale like the Goose Girl and yet I can tell you I’m not that familiar with that tale and still found this book a page turner. I rarely stay up past my bedtime and yet I just couldn’t put the book down until I was finished. If you love fantasy you will love this book, but even if you don’t you should give it a try. I really can’t say enough good things about this book. Nothing keeps me up at night(early to work) and yet last night I didn’t turn off the light until after midnight, way too late for me. I loved this book and the characters and I hope to see more from this author. She should have a mainstream publisher soon, this is a good story, well edited, fast paced and interesting to boot. Give this book a try – it is great for any age and I know you won’t be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent! I loved it and highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's nice to see a princess fantasy that's more than a thinly-veiled bodice-ripper. Alyrra is thoughtful, caring, and intelligent and the author's deep characterizations and nuanced explorations of motivation and choice make this an engaging and thought-provoking read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't get passed the first 55 pages of this book. I thought the idea of it was interesting but there was not a single thing about it I liked. The writing just wasn't good. I couldn't get into it and found myself saying "....really?" Way too often. This girls mother is one of the most confusing characters I've ever seen. She constantly kept going back and forth between being mean and wanting to help her. And then the talking horse out of no where... i mean, come on. If I could unread this book, I would.
short-of-genius More than 1 year ago
A random selection turned into a great read. Thoroughly entertaining!
Sparrowhawk24 More than 1 year ago
Even though the book started wobbly on its feet, I found Thorn to be an admirable story. This is essentially a book for anyone who loves fairy tale retellings and for anyone who craves an emotional connection with characters. ___________________________________________ WHAT I LIKED: + I confess that I am not at all familiar with the fairy tale, The Goose Girl ― which is the narrative Intisar Khanani drew inspiration from ― thus, I cannot elaborate on the comparison of the two, but when I discovered that Thorn was Khanani’s debut novel, I was instantly impressed. I found the scope of the story to be well-conceived as it offered an array of intriguing characters and conflict. Coupled with wonderfully crafted magic, an enchanting world, and a romantic aspect that was gracefully crafted too, I was utterly engrossed + More on the romance though, it was much more believable to me than any of the romantic themes I have read as of late ― boy was this ever refreshing. I was so incredibly happy that Khanani did not fall into the all-too-familiar dangers of instant love. The fact that Khanani was able to pen emotional tension where you are able to see and feel the heart rebel from what it knows it needs and find yourself immersed in the struggle is remarkable to me. Frankly, I found these elements lended themselves to an authenticity I do not come across often in the romance genre. I loved it + I loved the emphasis on character development in this book too; more specifically, Thorn’s character arc. Firstly, I love that Thorn is in no way the typical female protagonist that needs constant rescuing. Secondly, Thorn is strong, selfless, resourceful and loves deeply. Lastly, I love how we are able to see Thorn deal with the situations surrounding her ordeal and how they manage to change her radically ― at times even, her response in those emotionally intense moments, I found I was able to breathe in inspiration: “‘Murder makes one cold.’ . . .’It takes away your soul, piece by piece. It turns your heart to stone. Is that you want?'” + With tensions running high within the last quarter of the book, I was apprehensive about the way Khanani was going to close this story! Let’s just say ― though I was left wanting ―that the ending was more than gratifying; I was not disappointed in the least. So much so, that I was left in awe at the extraordinary feat Thorn faced throughout the narrative as a whole. If I may be so bold, I genuinely believe that Thorn’s strength and human will is what truly makes this book so effective WHAT I DIDN’T LIKED: - I had some small complaints when it came to the rules surrounding the spells and enchantments of the Thorn universe, but this did not take away from the general reading experience - My main issue with Thorn however, was with the torpid pacing; the truth is, I struggled to stay engaged and interested, ― mostly during the first quarter of the book. I felt the author provided us with extraneous information in almost every chapter, and as a result, some of the turning points felt flat. Be that as it may however, after the world-building and conflict is established, things begin to pick up and you suddenly find it difficult to keep yourself from turning the pages compulsively. Speaking of which. . . AFTERTHOUGHTS: As I turned the last page, I realized at once that hardships are great teachers. They soften your heart and strengthen your resolve. At the same time, I realized that all of our emotions are meant
FishThatReads More than 1 year ago
Thorn was a very enjoyable read. It is an adaptation of a fairy tale of which I have never heard of before, The Goose Girl. It's a very loveable story with amazing characters. Intisar Khanani has an amazing voice and I will certainly add more of her works on my TBR list and this title to my favourites. Our MC heroine, Alyrra, gets attacked by a revenge-thirsty sorceress and swaps her identity with another girl. Alyrra has been through a lot before we even get into the story, and through the story much more tragic events happen to her not including the many restraints she has. Even through all of this Alyrra remains a strong, very admirable character. Not strong for herself, but she stands for the problems of anyone she meets, she stands up for what she finds wrong and bargains with dangerous people to get the right done. In the middle section of the story the pace went quite slow, it builds up to create a fantastic final 100 pages though. The book had its uplifting moments when you feel comforted by and trusting in Alyrra and other characters, but it also had its moments where you can't keep in the feels intact, leaving you with wet trails down your cheeks. For example: Falada, Corbe and The Wind. While Khanani wrote beautifully, I occasionally had to go back a few paragraph and reread it to understand the context. Yet, I still loved the inner thoughts of Alyrra. She was an amazing character. Thorn was strange for me at the start, the whole book had a fairy-tale feel to it that you cannot find in YA books nowadays. It is unpredictable and has you flipping page after page in delight, even though I have already read and loved the book, its on my wishlist to be bought and displayed on my shelf. Where is your copy?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story starts out slow and kinda strange. Keep reading. It's completely worth it. I was worried I was wasting my time for a litle bit but then the story really took off. The heroine is great and admirable but not perfect. It just made me like her more. And it's never easy to guess what's going to happen next. The storyline is unpredictable but still makes sense. I could point out all kinds of other great things about the book and it's your call whether or not you read it. But I hope you do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
artbradley More than 1 year ago
It was a truly wonderful book. This book is that delicate treasure: a beloved tale beautifully retold. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good I would have paid 10$ for it if needed. Definitely something I can see myself rereading over and over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BlueRose-Chan More than 1 year ago
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MemoryScarlett More than 1 year ago
THORN begins with far more questions than answers, so it took me a little while to sink into the story. The worldbuilding and the character development unfold slowly, each piece priming us for greater understanding down the line. This requires some patience on the reader's part as we must trust the answers will be worth the wait. They are. Alyrra is a fascinating character. The abuse she suffered at her brother's hands has left a mark on her. She doesn't believe anyone could have her best interests at heart, or mean what they say, because she's grown up steeped in mistrust. She expects to be hurt, and she raises barriers to prevent anyone from getting close enough to do so. Khanani shows us how these barriers impact each of Alyrra's relationships, and how difficult it is for her to lower them even when she receives support and affection. The friendships and alliances that emerge as she slowly connects with the people around her are beautifully developed. Alyrra's most enduring bond is with Falada, a strong-willed talking horse. Falada challenges and supports her, giving her what she currently needs and what she may require in the future. Their friendship is equal parts joy and pain, especially for readers who know the original story. Alyrra also befriends her fellow stable workers, who give her a valuable window onto the lower classes and force her to engage with injustice. The same is true of the people who fight for change on the streets. The contrast between the &quot;justice&quot; they receive and what the nobles experience gives Alyrra further motivation to help her new country. It also introduces a political component to the tale; an acknowledgement that fairy tale lands hold more than upper class folks. Dire things happen outside the castle walls, and while the commoners take matters into their own hands, they could use a champion amongst the upper echelons of society. A champion like Alyrra, perhaps. But even as her characters call for change, Khanani acknowledges that lasting alterations to any political structure take time. There are no magic solutions for these problems. If Alyrra wants to change anything, she'll have to fight for it. Of course, Alyrra also interacts with Prince Kestrin, her intended husband--and even though the reader must guess they'll end up married, their story is more a quest for mutual understanding than a romance. It's immediately apparent to the reader that Kestrin realizes Alyrra has been cursed, but it makes sense that distrustful Alyrra shies away from accepting his help. We see Kestrin's side of the story in flashes of insight as he tries to help Alyrra navigate the curse's twisting pathways. There's an understanding that this isn't love--can't be love--but it might <i>become</i> love, should both parties be willing to work at it. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the magic, which weaves through this world in a way that feels both firmly rooted and elusive. The magic that forces its way into Alyrra's life feels entirely organic and suitably effortful. It sometimes follows fairy tale logic, as one might expect in a fairy tale adaptation, but it fits. Its pathways are difficult, convoluted, and satisfyingly tricky to navigate. And Alyrra holds the power to unravel her own curse. She's victimized, but she can break free of what's been done to her and forge a new life for herself. It's just so wonderful! I highly recommend it to anyone with a hankering for a character-driven fairy tale retelling.
bnneal More than 1 year ago
An excellent first work.  You can tell the author put her heart and soul into the work.  Not only did it carry me along, but it made me wish we could know more about the character's livers when it was over...which was all too soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thorn hooked be by the nose and dragged me into her world whole heartedly. I stayed up all night and kept getting distracted from my work until I finished it. It was worth the sleepless night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More than I expected from a YA. It's hard to find an author like her nowadays - beautifully written with none of the usual fluff. This one is a keeper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RabidReaderReviews More than 1 year ago
Readers will perceive Alyrra as a sad victim at the start of the novel but as we get to know her we realize she has a wealth of inner strength. Khanani writes a character that stands as an example of doing the right thing when the right thing isn't easy. Khanani also shows her skill in writing Kestrin. The prince is an interesting character in his motivations. Can Alyrra trust him? Will he be able to persevere to his goal? The love story between Alyrra and Kestrin (which may be perceived by some as a spoiler but is in the books description) is very organic and slow in coming. I disliked when young adult novels present relationships to children as something that is so easy to fall into and life or death and all big emotion and loud noises. Love is sometimes natural and the best lovers are those people who are already friends. The relationship between Alyrra and her escort, Valka, is somewhat muddled when presented. When Khanani does eventually explain things it seems to me that the narrative would have lost nothing with an upfront understanding with the audience as to what was taking place. Older readers may find some of the loose ends left untied troublesome but I believe young adults who like the fantasy genre will eat this one up. Younger readers will love the talking horse. I would recommend Thorn for middle grade to older teens