Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1) by Bree Barton
Series: Heart of Thorns #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on July 31, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Hard Cover
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Inventive and heart-racing, this fiercely feminist teen fantasy trilogy from debut author Bree Barton examines a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.
Mia Rose wants only one thing: revenge against the Gwyrach—feared, reviled, and magical women—who killed her mother. After years training under her father’s infamous Hunters, Mia is ready. She will scour the four kingdoms, find her mother’s murderer, and enact the Hunters’ Creed: heart for a heart, life for a life.
But when Mia is thrust into the last role she ever wanted—promised wife to the future king—she plots a daring escape. On her wedding night, Mia discovers something she never imagined: She may be a Huntress, but she’s also a Gwyrach. As the truth comes to light, Mia must untangle the secrets of her own past. Now if she wants to survive, Mia must learn to trust her heart . . . even if it kills her.
Bree Barton’s debut Young Adult novel comes at a perfect time. Not a day goes by without the news sharing a story about sexual misconduct and assault. We’re in an age where women are fighting for control over their own bodies, the misuse of which has long been fostered by their wonted roles beside (and often under) men. Bree Barton addresses this in her book, but not in any sort of graphic, crude way. No, the method is subtle and quite enchanting.
Mia Rose has trained to hunt and kill the gwyrach just like her father. It was one of these demon women who killed her mother. Able to control human basic components of the human body, they can stop a person’s heartbeat with one touch or enthrall them to do their bidding. The gwyrach look just like any other woman, which is why all females in the river kingdom must wear gloves and be escorted by a man. To be married is to be protected, which is why the story begins the night before Mia is to be married to a man she barely knows. The reader learns about the death of Mia’s mother, her father’s role as leader of the hunters, and her sister’s strange illness that has made Mia her protector. When Mia’s wedding day comes, her world quickly unravels and she finds herself fleeing the river nation with the man she was supposed to marry in order to save both their lives.
This book sucked me in – right from the enigmatic back cover to the well-paced early chapters. The first night, I read the entire first part (there are four), barely moving from my spot in bed. While Mia is a strong female heroine, as is often expected with young adult fantasy, she is an intriguing character with real weaknesses. Unlike some female heroines that seem to bulldoze through the story, even if it means keeping secrets from the reader to make their actions possible, we get to see Mia crumble and rebuild herself, just like a normal person would.
Barton’s realistic writing doesn’t stop with Mia. Her world is well-developed and colorfully described, and she does a great job sticking within believable parameters, even when things get odd. The supporting characters are fleshed out, and it’s fun to read the tension that forms, not just between them and Mia, but each of them, as well. Not everything is as it seems, and Barton does a good job using these characters to display the messages of her story. She speaks of love, boundaries, and the gray areas that every person has.
I really enjoyed this book – so much so that I was looking for the sequel before I was even finished. Sadly, it’s the first book, so I’ll probably have to wait some time before the next one comes out. But it’s definitely on my “To Be Read” List, and I recommend other lovers of Young Adult Fantasy check it out.