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Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1)

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In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch. But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is force In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch. But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.


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In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch. But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is force In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch. But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

30 review for Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    There have been many times when I've disagreed with Kirkus reviews, but whoever wrote the review for this book and said: "This winsome debut novel goes down like a vegan, gluten-free cupcake: sweet and good for you but entirely lacking in satisfying decadence." nailed it. Heart of Thorns needed more editing and fewer tropes. It needed more memorable characters and fewer info-dumps. And it really just needed to be a bit less... polite. There's absolutely zero juicy goodness in this book, and asid There have been many times when I've disagreed with Kirkus reviews, but whoever wrote the review for this book and said: "This winsome debut novel goes down like a vegan, gluten-free cupcake: sweet and good for you but entirely lacking in satisfying decadence." nailed it. Heart of Thorns needed more editing and fewer tropes. It needed more memorable characters and fewer info-dumps. And it really just needed to be a bit less... polite. There's absolutely zero juicy goodness in this book, and aside from the briefly-mentioned bisexuality of the love interest, it just doesn't do anything special or new. It's interesting how we've rebranded the same old tropes. Some years back, when feminism was still a dirty word, this exact same story would never have been sold as "a fiercely feminist fantasy" but as a fantasy with a "kickass heroine". Back then, I got private messages from women saying how "brave" I was for calling myself a feminist on my profile (yes, really). Now "Feminist" is a t-shirt slogan, feminism is itself edgy and cool, so we can use it as a marketing tool. But, *whisper yells* it's still the same old story! There is nothing uniquely feminist about this. Heart of Thorns consists of a vaguely-sketched world in which women are treated like shit until a badass female heroine rises up to challenge the system. This is not new. This is almost every YA fantasy novel of the last ten years. And, honestly, the attempts to be "feminist" and include LGBT relationships were not done well, in my opinion. It read really awkwardly and saw characters tagging on afterthoughts to appear so woke: "You're beautiful when you lie." He quickly added, "Not to diminish you or suggest that beauty is an indicator of your worth." *** “I don’t know. I’ve never had a husband. Or a wife,” she added. Why even choose to write in inclusivity like an "oops"? Why not just say "I've never had a husband or a wife" or even just "I've never had a husband" because we already know the MC is straight. And I applaud anyone who can read that first quote without rolling their eyes. So, the plot. Basically, Mia is being forced into an arranged marriage with Prince Quin when an assassination attempt forces them both to go on the run together. Up until this point, Mia has wanted nothing more than to seek revenge against her mother's killer - one of the Gwyrach: terrifying magical women - but it is on her wedding night that she discovers she is one of them. Armed with her mother's journal, Mia must find out the truth about the Gwyrach, her mother, and herself. There's a lot of over-descriptive writing and info-dumps that would have benefited from further editing. The world-building we are given is introduced through conversations in which the characters awkwardly recite the history of their land and politics for no good reason. And the pacing is weird and uneven. At one point, I thought several days had passed and then Mia was thinking about the events of the night before and I realised it had been less than 24 hours. Oh, and the tropes/things we see in pretty much every YA fantasy: ➽ Female assassin/hunter being forced into unwanted marriage with a prince. ➽ MC discovers own secret powers. ➽ Dead parent. ➽ Motivated by sibling love. ➽ Bland love interest. ➽ Mindlessly evil king. ➽ Gratuitous attempted rape scene. I know every genre has tropes and I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing, but I do expect books to do a bit of something new, or what's the point? There was nothing here that made me sit up, take interest and think "what will happen next?". Nothing got my blood pumping. I do also wonder if a first-person narrative would have made it more engaging. I got to the end and felt no urge to seek out the sequel. The dramatic conclusion was not as tense as it was clearly meant to be because - and perhaps I am wrong - the very fact that there is a sequel seems to suggest a certain inevitability that drains some tension from the final moments. I doubt I'll be finding out either way. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. “Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder.” Hello, friends! This is going to be a hard one to review. I honestly feel like this is a solid 2.5 star read, but some aspects make me want to raise that rating and others make me want to lower it. I will say the end of this book is phenomenal. Like, easily the best part. And it was so good that I want to continue on. But the rest, especially the ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. “Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder.” Hello, friends! This is going to be a hard one to review. I honestly feel like this is a solid 2.5 star read, but some aspects make me want to raise that rating and others make me want to lower it. I will say the end of this book is phenomenal. Like, easily the best part. And it was so good that I want to continue on. But the rest, especially the earlier sections, were some of the most predictable reading I’ve ever read. Again, I’m super torn on this one. This book does tackle a lot of important themes, and I would say that the heart of this novel is honestly feminism. This book shines a spotlight on inequality between men and women, and how women in this world basically developed magic because it was the only way to somewhat counterbalance it. “…men have found ever-new ways of oppressing women. Our bodies have been receptacles, both container and contained; our wombs soft and pliant for the children we were meant to bear our husbands, whether we wanted to or not. We have been restricted, silenced, and confined. This has been called many things—‘protection,’ ‘progress,’ even ‘love.’” This book stars a young girl named Mia, who is getting ready to celebrate a marriage that her father has chosen for her. Mia is contemplating running away, so she won’t be forced to marry a prince that she barely knows. But Mia has a sick sister who she has to take into account, because she can’t bear to leave her. But her sister wants nothing more than to stay, safely tucked away in the castle, while hoping for her chance at love. Mia’s father is a renowned hunter of Gwyrach, which are woman who are believed to be witches, who are said to be able to stop a man’s heart just by laying their hands on their skin. They are also said to have powers to enthrall those around them and make them do their bidding. So, in this world, all women are forced to wear gloves, and it is considered unthinkable to be seen without them. But this story is truly about Mia’s mother, who was killed when Mia was very young, and found dead with not a mark upon her skin. Heart of Thorns truly centers on Mia trying to figure out who killed her mother, and why they chose to do so. And Mia is able to finally leave the castle and hope to search for clues once her wedding day ends with a murder attempt. Together, Mia, and the promised prince that she knew barely anything about, go on an adventure where they find out a lot not only about Mia’s mother, but about the entire corrupt world they live in. And Mia finds out who she really is, and what she can really become, only if she chooses to embrace and love what she is, instead of hating it because of what she’s grown up learning. Trigger and content warnings for talk of illness, graphic depictions of dead bodies and parts from those dead bodies, physical abuse, assault, sexual assault (unwanted touching), war themes, torture, violence in general, cruel death of an animal, a lot of blood visuals, murder, and too many rape attempts and talk of past rape attempts. “We were hunted and killed for thousands of years, long before we had magic. We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman’s body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt.” So, the promised prince’s name is Quin, and he honestly was my favorite character in the entire book. Not only is he bisexual, he is just kind, and caring, and thoughtful, and empathic. He also really loves dogs, and this is another very important quality that I personally look for in people. And speaking about more sexual representation, Mia’s mom was for sure not straight and was in a relationship with another woman. There is also a big side character that is gay. There is also a little bit of disability representation in this book, from another character that I really liked. Again, this book does have a lot of good, it just also has a lot of predictability. Sometimes while reading, I felt like this was maybe a middle grade book. Because the writing is well done, but the clues are so glaringly obvious it makes for a poor reading experience. Hence why the end was so amazing, because it actually has twist after twist that I didn’t see coming. But I’ll be honest, the first 75% of this book is somewhat boring to read. At least, it was for me. “Magic is born in the margins. It is nurtured among the vulnerable and broken. It is our bodies crying out for justice, seeking to right centuries of wrongs.” Again, I still think this is a really good start to something that could be amazing. Between the feministic themes, to the bonds of sisterhood, to the lengths we are willing to go for the ones we love, I want more from this world, these characters, and this author. Also, this is Bree Barton’s debut novel, so I’m going to cut her a little slack for the predictability. And I honestly am excited to continue on with this series. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. Buddy read with Jules at JA Ironside! ❤

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina The Trash Queen

    “Trust your heart Even if it kills you.” A BOOK WHERE WOMEN ARE THE ONLY CHARACTERS THAT HAVE MAGIC? 😍🙌. ✨ I’ve been bless!!!! ✨ I really hope to like this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    destiny ☠ howling libraries

    I heard "bi male love interest" and "fiercely feminist", so, uh... here we are.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton is the first book in the young adult fantasy series by the same name, Heart of Thorns. This one is a darker fantasy that would be best for an older crowd as there is a lot of violence and even rape involved in the story. The series is set in a world in which some women possess magical abilities but having these abilities causes fear in those that don’t. With only a touch those known as the Gwyrach can manipulate a victims body and steal their life and to protect fro Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton is the first book in the young adult fantasy series by the same name, Heart of Thorns. This one is a darker fantasy that would be best for an older crowd as there is a lot of violence and even rape involved in the story. The series is set in a world in which some women possess magical abilities but having these abilities causes fear in those that don’t. With only a touch those known as the Gwyrach can manipulate a victims body and steal their life and to protect from this magic all women are forced to wear gloves at all times. Mia Rose lost her mother to a Gwyrach and in the years since she has done nothing but train to be the one who destroys them. Now however Mia’s father has gone into an arrangement with the King offering Mia’s hand in marriage to the Prince. Mia is completely against the marriage and had planned an escape but couldn’t leave her sister behind. However, just as the marriage is about to take place a threat on the groom’s life sends Mia into hiding with him as she finds herself developing the same powers that she’s vowed to defend against. This opening of the Heart of Thorns series seemed to be a bit up and down for me while reading. I actually enjoyed the world the author was creating in this one and felt it had a faster pace to it as it along which I enjoy. Mia took a little warming up to in the story though and she kept going back to something that would have me shaking my head. Quin was a great character though along with some others. There was one particular scene however that I just really didn’t like at all but it’s too far to go into specifics but when I added it all together in the end I’d rate this opener at 3.5 stars and would continue reading the next book of the series. I received an advance copy from the publisher via Edelweiss. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alana • thebookishchick

    Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an arc of this! 2.5 stars tw: attempted sexual assault, mentions of self-harm This was a bummer for me, you guys. I was really looking forward to this one and it just really fell short for me. The premise of this book was SO good, and when I read the synopsis I was instantly sold. But unfortunately, this one just didn't do it for me. So where did it fall short, you ask? For starters this was SUPER trope-y, and don't get me wrong I love a good trop Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an arc of this! 2.5 stars tw: attempted sexual assault, mentions of self-harm This was a bummer for me, you guys. I was really looking forward to this one and it just really fell short for me. The premise of this book was SO good, and when I read the synopsis I was instantly sold. But unfortunately, this one just didn't do it for me. So where did it fall short, you ask? For starters this was SUPER trope-y, and don't get me wrong I love a good trope (I mean I've only screamed about tropes in, like, my last ten reviews) but there were so many tropes and so little development. They were just thrown at you with a bunch of extra info and then on to the next. It was like an Oprah show during Christmas. "You get a trope, you get a trope, you get a trope, don't think we forgot about you in the back - here's another trope for you". I think fewer tropes and more development within those tropes would have been a little better for this story. Second, the MC was forgettable and sometimes rather annoying. Honestly, if her name wasn't Mia I probably would have forgotten it by now. The rest of the characters were basically just as forgettable, except for Mia's mother and sister. I do have to say I really did love reading about Mia's mother and what happened to her leading up to her murder, it was probably the only highlight of the story for me. Third, the pacing or whatever that was? I mean this was really my biggest problem and struggle with the book. Parts of this book were so descriptive that it just felt off. Once Mia learns she is a Gwyrach and is being taught about her magic she goes through "training" as would any other YA girl learning about her unknown magic. Except that training is, like, a pretty decent amount of this book and it's literally the span of one day. One day of training. I was so thrown off by this because I thought this was something that was happening over the course of days, not less than 24 hours. It was really weird because you just spend so much time reading about the training and then realize it was literally one day out out the characters life. I do have to say, despite the things I didn't care for some of the plot twists were actually unexpected for me. And I do love me a good unexpected plot twist because I am the queen of overthinking and usually figure these things out early on. You can also expect a strong focus on feminism/sisterhood once you power through about 45% of this book.  And I generally did enjoy the fact that this book really focuses on perspective a lot. Where Mia is from Gwyrach are considered demons, but what about other kingdoms? Also, this book does have bisexual rep in it, however, it is pretty minimal at this point.  I think from the ending of this book we might see more of that rep in the next book, or at least I hope. All in all, there were more letdowns then lovable parts of this book for me. I'm not sure how I feel about picking up the sequel at this point. I am generally curious as to how the multiple cliffhangers of this book will be wrapped up, but who knows how I'll feel after waiting a year for the sequel to come out. Blog | Twitter | Instagram

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anissa (FairyLoot)

    Loved this so much!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔

    Trust your heart. Even if it kills you. OMG, the cover!!! I love it! --- Hmm...title changed from Black Rose to Heart of Thorns? Alright, not bad. I like it. Now if only I could get an official release date. --- Wait I thought this was suppose to come out in 2017? Why does it say 2018 now? Ugh...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    Expected Pub Date: July 31st,2018 Review  You an also read it on my blog!! 1 Star DNF @30% I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Spoilers Somewhat Yep I'm gone. I'm bailing quickly After it started off with such premise I found myself being disinterested by 25% in. Let me give a run down of the plot. It's about a 17 year girl Mia, who is an arranged marriage with Prince Quinn which is the last thing she wants to do. She wants to be a hunter who hunts Gwyrachs, magical beings Expected Pub Date: July 31st,2018 Review  You an also read it on my blog!! 1 Star DNF @30% I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Spoilers Somewhat Yep I'm gone. I'm bailing quickly After it started off with such premise I found myself being disinterested by 25% in. Let me give a run down of the plot. It's about a 17 year girl Mia, who is an arranged marriage with Prince Quinn which is the last thing she wants to do. She wants to be a hunter who hunts Gwyrachs, magical beings who are witches who can kill people by touch. When her mother was killed by one when she was younger, she was determined to become a hunter so she can revenge her death. When a life or death situation arises, her life turns upside down when it's reveal that she's a Gwyrach herself. Now she's on a journey with the prince in order to uncover the secrets of her mom's journal and the truth about her new-found discovery on herself. Sounds good right? That's what I thought too for at least 20% of the book.. I couldn't connect with the characters or the plot at all. The MC became straight out annoying and the love interest seemed blander than bread even tho I seen people compared him to Darcy and Rhysand.. ( I also heard he was Bi but I didn't even stick around to see if that was true) Mia supposed to been almost like Katniss and Cinder with trying to protect her baby sister but seem more like Scarlet from Carnival... The writing seems like the author needed to go though more drafts before this book could be considered for an arc. In other words, the author needs to fire her editor cause her editor should have told her this book works better in first person and tone down using the word "perhaps" and the phase "like a". I was changing it to first pov in my mind but that takes work and didn't feel like doing it for the rest of the book. It supposed to be feminist but all I got out of it 30% in is that the men treat the woman like shit through the ages as usual and this magical witches are able to enchant the men and then kill with a touch.. Also the fact the men are rulers and females can't rule even tho the previous ruler was a female and she did everything right... Hmm.. I thought having a feminist feel to a book supposed to mean that women and men supposed to be treated like equals with no female or male bashing involved. Also I read an another review where it supposed to be attempted sexual assault on a female side character ( which 30% in was the only character I was interested in) which really made me throw my hands and bail quickly. Feminist alright.. Dear Authors PLEASE DO MORE SHOWING THAN TELLING. YOU CAN TELL ME THINGS ALL DAY BUT DOESN'T AMOUNT TO NOTHING IF YOU DON'T SHOW ME! Yeah The Gwyrach sounds scary but you keep telling me these women with magic should be feared but not showing me. Yeah I supposed to be believe that Mia supposed to be a hunter who hunts Gwyrach but you never show me her hunting down one maybe when she younger with her dad or with the hunters. You never show me her even training to be one. So more show and less tell! Also Authors. Perhaps sounds pretentious as hell. Please stop using it so damn much! Thank you!

  10. 5 out of 5

    J.A. Ironside

    ARC provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Ok for me this was 2.5 stars but I think I've been prejudiced by the travesty that was chapter 53. The book probably deserves 3 stars so I've rounded up. I'm not going to rehash the blurb here. This is a very linear story of a young noble woman being forced into an unwanted marriage when she'd rather be a Gwyrach (witch/ demon) hunter like her father (who incidentally is who is forcing her into marriage.) Things go sideways and our MC, Mi ARC provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Ok for me this was 2.5 stars but I think I've been prejudiced by the travesty that was chapter 53. The book probably deserves 3 stars so I've rounded up. I'm not going to rehash the blurb here. This is a very linear story of a young noble woman being forced into an unwanted marriage when she'd rather be a Gwyrach (witch/ demon) hunter like her father (who incidentally is who is forcing her into marriage.) Things go sideways and our MC, Mia, ends up on the run with the prince having discovered something 'shocking' about herself. The book is divided (probably unnecessarily) into four parts. Part one is quite clunky in terms of narrative but the book becomes very readable as you proceed. It hits a lot of tropes and it's not subtle about doing it. Tropes aren't a bad thing of course - readers, whether they are aware of it or not, are looking for certain tropes in certain genres, but re-imagined and repackaged. So I suppose what I'm saying here is that Heart of Thorns doesn't do a great job of repackaging those tropes, while simultaneously absolutely fulfilling the target audience's expectations. There were few surprises but it was still by and large quite an enjoyable read. I loved Quin as a character, which I was not expecting. YA love interests are usually a bit meh with me. That said I really don't want him with the MC because he can do better! While I'm on the subject of Quin, don't get too excited about LGBTQ+ rep in this book. It is there, but you won't get a whisper of it until about two thirds of the way through where a lot is crammed in in a short space of narrative. It's great that Quin and a few other characters are Bi but I wouldn't call it well done rep. It's not bad but it's sort of wedged in, so moderate your expectations. SPOILERS Chapter 53 really pissed me off. The feminist message of the book had been delivered in a fairly clumsy, un-nuanced and heavy handed way up until that point but ok, at least this wasn't a YA fantasy about a girl finding the one person in the universe meant for her. But in this chapter the author managed to hit almost all my bookish bugbears; - rape and rape threat used as short hand for 'this character is a bad guy', instead of actual characterisation. -rape threat as something that all males will indulge in given half the chance, even if they've been starving on a mountain for three days... - taking the one competent female character and first depowering her (using rape threat) and then killing her for the most contrived of reasons because oops she is competition for the far less competent MC and the author doesn't know what to do with the competent female character. - yes no one is safe from attack, but this was just completely devoid of nuance and was so forced in terms of plot structure. Spoiler end Possibly one of the things that bugs me most in books, is when we are constantly told how clever and brilliant a character is when we are never shown that by their actions. In this case I think Mia is one of the stupidest MCs I've ever encountered. Being able to incorrectly recite anatomical terminology doesn't make you clever - seriously one of the most mediocre intellects I've seen on a character. So as I said I'm torn. I can see how this would be exactly what some readers want. It delivers on the tropes of the genre, the style is highly readable, the pace is good and the plot is just intriguing enough. I imagine if you haven't read lots of fantasy you'll get even more out of it. Despite my personal annoyance with Mia and her clueless black and white world view and emotional over reactions (despite apparently being all about logic! hahaha!), she has plenty of agency. Other readers are going to love her. Personally I'd recommend this for people wanting light, uncomplicated fantasy with a feminist slant and a straight forward plot. Quin is adorable, Dom and Pilar and Karri are a great supporting cast, if somewhat underused. The things that annoyed me will be what makes someone else lover the book. Buddy read with Melanie

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lenna • Sugar Dusted Pages

    2.5 RTC It was going to be a solid 3 until this lovely line: "You're beautiful when you lie." He quickly added, "Not to diminish you or suggest that beauty is an indicator of your worth." FOR. PETE'S. SAKE. Just tell the story and stop trying to shove your microwaved feminism down my throat.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sahithi

    "Your clavicle throws the most beautiful shadows" "If she had understood the way blood flowed through the vena arteriosa to the heart's left chamber, or known how to invoke the subtle rhythm of the cariac systole- she might have saved her mother's life." "She dug her fingertips into the bridge of her nose. 'The sphenoid bone. It's like my whole cerebrum is on fire.'" DNF As a medical student, I can assure you that no one speaks like this. Such phrases generally never come out of one's mouth oral c "Your clavicle throws the most beautiful shadows" "If she had understood the way blood flowed through the vena arteriosa to the heart's left chamber, or known how to invoke the subtle rhythm of the cariac systole- she might have saved her mother's life." "She dug her fingertips into the bridge of her nose. 'The sphenoid bone. It's like my whole cerebrum is on fire.'" DNF As a medical student, I can assure you that no one speaks like this. Such phrases generally never come out of one's mouth oral cavity.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amber ~ The Reading Addict

    Graceling and Pride and Prejudice ?!?!?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    ♦ Video Review ♦ 3.5 stars. Heart of Thorns was exactly the kind of Fantasy book that I love. And while I found especially the first half of it very slow, there's nothing about it that I actively disliked. This book has incredible world building and for me it's the thing that stands out the most. The writing is sometimes a little bit much but when it comes to describing the world it works perfectly. I thought it was so easy to imagine the setting and I had really vivid pictures in mind. But even ♦ Video Review ♦ 3.5 stars. Heart of Thorns was exactly the kind of Fantasy book that I love. And while I found especially the first half of it very slow, there's nothing about it that I actively disliked. This book has incredible world building and for me it's the thing that stands out the most. The writing is sometimes a little bit much but when it comes to describing the world it works perfectly. I thought it was so easy to imagine the setting and I had really vivid pictures in mind. But even more so, the magic system was fantastic. While the magic itself was nothing new, the idea and concept behind it stands out. And this first book was really only the tip of the iceberg. I can't wait to see so much more of this magic in use but I'm already to intrigued by the history of it. "We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman's body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt." The cast of characters was fantastic. Sadly I found the main character Mia a little bit bland in comparison to all of the amazing side and minor characters. While Mia has a really interesting character development and I didn't dislike her at all, everybody else just stood out to me much more. There's so many intriguing background stories for a lot of these characters and I wanna know so much more about them. Especially Quin, the prince, has a firm place in my heart already. He is a perfect cinnamon roll that we should protect at all costs! Ange, Mia's sister, was another super intriguing character that I'm excited to meet again in the sequel. There is huge potential in this character. Quin is attracted to both boys and girls and throughout the novel we also find out that Mia's mother was in a relationship with a woman before. There is another gay side-character and also a disabled side-character. I think this book's biggest flaw is the extremely slow first half and overall length of this book. Nothing about this was exactly bad but I can't bring myself to give this more than 3.5 stars because the first half was a pain to get through and I think that some of it could've been cut. I had also expected a little bit more from the romance. I liked it overall but "Pride & Prejudice meets Graceling" gives you some very specific expectations this just couldn't meet. I could see the P&P elements in the beginning of the story but it's easy to tell immediately what kind of character Quin truly is. I was expecting hate-to-love and wanted much more angst, although I do definitely see an Elizabeth character in Mia. "Logic is insufficient. Love will always expose its flaws. It is good to have a mind, but it is better to have a heart. Overall this was a really great story about all kinds of love with some interesting feminist themes. While this novel certainly lacks a lot of things, it is an overall enjoyable novel, that shows much potential for future instalments. I received an ARC of this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. ♦ Booktube Channel ♦ Twitter ♦

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bright Star

    "Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder." And here another book with great potential but poorly developed. From the line above I was so sure Heart of Thorns would have been an interesting story but, alas, it was bland and with the same old YA tropes. Dear author, if you wanted to impress the reader you should have tried harder.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christopher DeWan

    I've already read a manuscript of BLACK ROSE, and it's a great adventure, full of beautiful insights and heartbreaking revelations. I can't wait to see the final draft and the other books in the series.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Thoughts so far This is complete drivel. This is an excellent portrayal of "Hollywood Smart," basically what people *think* smart people act like in movies. I've never encountered a more obnoxious portrayal of "book smarts" in YA and I hope it just fucking dies here. I'm infuriated by the fact that this book expects us, the audience, to think Mia is anything close to the intellectual, scientist, or whatever pretentious title she wants to have. I'm infuriated of the idea that someone who doesn't k Thoughts so far This is complete drivel. This is an excellent portrayal of "Hollywood Smart," basically what people *think* smart people act like in movies. I've never encountered a more obnoxious portrayal of "book smarts" in YA and I hope it just fucking dies here. I'm infuriated by the fact that this book expects us, the audience, to think Mia is anything close to the intellectual, scientist, or whatever pretentious title she wants to have. I'm infuriated of the idea that someone who doesn't know any better reading this book without a basic science background will think this bitch is the next Hermione Granger or Belle. The straw that broke the camel's back: "You speak as if it's arrogant to seek knowledge. I think it's the opposite. It takes great humility to admit you know nothing, and you want to learn." Out of context, this is a nice aphorism. I would actually agree outside the context of this book. BUT. This is horrible because this is also what pseudo-intellectual dumbasses say when someone calls them out on their bullshit because they never take responsibitlity for their actions due to a lack of knowledge (i.e. their stupiditiy). This is just a line for Mia to excuse her arrogance and actual lack of knowledge when confronted by someone who has the answers she wants. This is so manipulative and frames itself as a goody-two-shoes innocent seeker of knowledge being victimized by someone who won't give them the answer key. Mia doesn't do the fucking work for it she doesn't deserve to have the answers handed to her like someone who feigns helplessness because they're USELESS. I've had shitty lab partners say almost the exact same thing when I called them out for being incompetent. How it's "not wrong to want to learn." Nice sentiment, but that's not what's actually happening. It's an ass-cover for your lack of success. These people would bulldoze anyone who had a genuine desire to understand. People who have humility don't exactly go around bragging about how humble they are when they're covering up the fact they know jack squat. This is just like the random inserts of "science" the author includes that bear no importance to the story other than to tell us how SMORT Mia is because she reads and can conveniently explain anything that needs to be explained. You know, forget about field specialization. Even by the rare chance, the writing actually gets the science right, You Should Definitely Not Use This Book To Help You Pass Your Science Classes. Don't do it. Just don't. This book treats science like it is fact, as if it is the irrefutable truth, when in actuality it is a process of collecting evidence that may or may not support your predictions. The only thing this book has proven is that the author didn't pass high school biology and neither did anyone on the team that churned this out. I'm fuming. I'm fuming. Oh my god. P. 271 Sight isn't an illusion. It's science. It's the mind interpretting messages from the eyes. Look technically the statement isn't wrong, it's just that biological process of encoding a light signal from your retina to produce the visual perception you see as the end product is not science... The process of figuring out how the heck this works is science. YOU CAN'T JUST CALL FACTS SCIENCE. JESUS CHRIST. But nevermind. Words don't have meaning anymore. ------- Overall it's like the author didn't even pass HS biology and couldn't even properly google the correct use of anatomical/biological terms. The writing is attempting to be pretentious but lacks the capacity to actually be pretentious because: - A lot of facts about science and biology are just wrong. Ah the subtlety of cardiac systole lol is what's keeping your heart going. I'm pretty sure they also confused the pulmonary vein and artery with each other. - Portrays science and math as having all the answers when really if we knew everything, why would we need science to further our understanding of the world???!?!?!?! - The use of anatomical terms is stilted in dialogue... no one talks like this unless they're trying to prove how SMORT they are but really aren't. - The use of anatomical terms is overexaggerated... How do you know specifically your medulla is the part tearing out of your head? - Mia reduces language to just grammar rules. While you can learn a lot of sentence structures and replace words to create new sentences, explain idioms as "just grammar rules," then. - Mia claims "magic" is not a verb, so now she's trying to invalidate Merriam and Webster because it is indeed a verb. - Mia comes across as the female version of an emotionally unavailable intellectual male character a la Benedict Cumberbatch and I hope this changes. More to come!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    DNF at page 218. I’m DNF’ing this for the time being. I was too premature in assuming this book was going to be brilliant. The opening section really intrigued me but somwhere along the way...it just fell flat :( This book unfortunately doesn’t offer anything new; it uses the same old tropes, the same old formula and it’s a struggle to get through. I’m just not excited nor do I feel compelled to continue with it. Who knows, I may pick this back up in the future which is a shame as I feel like mos DNF at page 218. I’m DNF’ing this for the time being. I was too premature in assuming this book was going to be brilliant. The opening section really intrigued me but somwhere along the way...it just fell flat :( This book unfortunately doesn’t offer anything new; it uses the same old tropes, the same old formula and it’s a struggle to get through. I’m just not excited nor do I feel compelled to continue with it. Who knows, I may pick this back up in the future which is a shame as I feel like most YA fantasies are all sounding the same :(

  19. 5 out of 5

    mith

    this review + others can be found over on my blog! --- I loved this book! Though, frankly, it might have to do with Quin, but I'll get there. In the grand scheme of things, Heart of Thorns isn't entirely different from most other fantasy books. What does make it stand out is that only women have magic! And they're seen as demons. (Figures lmao) So of course our main character, Mia, is such a "creature"! I loved Mia, though. Throughout the book, it was easy to sympathise with her, in more ways than this review + others can be found over on my blog! --- I loved this book! Though, frankly, it might have to do with Quin, but I'll get there. In the grand scheme of things, Heart of Thorns isn't entirely different from most other fantasy books. What does make it stand out is that only women have magic! And they're seen as demons. (Figures lmao) So of course our main character, Mia, is such a "creature"! I loved Mia, though. Throughout the book, it was easy to sympathise with her, in more ways than one. Being forced into an arranged marriage, dealing with the loss of her mother, finding out she's one of the Gwyrach that killed her mother, all while giving up her goals and getting her sister to safety. It's a lot and it was heartening to see Mia push through whatever obstacle came her way the best she could. I had a lot of respect for her! I really, really liked Quin! He's the love interest and he was introduced as a cold, detatched prince at first, BUT OH. HE WAS SO SWEET LATER ON, I'm emo. He's also bisexual! I haven't read any reviews of the book where that's mentioned but Quin is bi!! I'm looking forward to future books because a) I'm so sold on this ship; b) the ending was both unexpected and slightly expected; and c) I really want to know more about the world. (I could do without the random scientific terms placed in, though.) So! Overall, I would definitely recommend this!

  20. 5 out of 5

    S.L.J.

    Blood bending?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paula Fowlkes Roussel

    Anyone else having a hard time rating and reviewing this book? Because I am...I have to think about this review for a few days...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hailey

    SEE THIS REVIEW AND MORE AT LITERATURE DREAMS! "Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder." Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton is book one in the "Heart of Thorns" series and will be published on July 31, 2018. Story in a Sentence: Mia Rose, a seventeen-year-old Huntress that has pledged to hunt the Gwyrach, is engaged to Prince Quin against her wishes by edict of her father and the King, but after an attempted assassination at their wedding, Mia and Quin have to run for th SEE THIS REVIEW AND MORE AT LITERATURE DREAMS! "Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder." Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton is book one in the "Heart of Thorns" series and will be published on July 31, 2018. Story in a Sentence: Mia Rose, a seventeen-year-old Huntress that has pledged to hunt the Gwyrach, is engaged to Prince Quin against her wishes by edict of her father and the King, but after an attempted assassination at their wedding, Mia and Quin have to run for their lives. "Magic is born in the margins. It is nurtured among the vulnerable and broken. It is our bodies crying out for justice, seeking to right centuries of wrong." I have to start with the writing. The amount of dialogue and exposition in this book is insane. There is a whole chapter of just dialogue and nothing else. In the last couple of chapters, there were pages and pages of exposition. The writing felt stilted and awkward more than once. This was actually really disappointing because the author is actually a really nice writer. If she would go back and correct these issues, it would be an okay book. "Wrong place, wrong time, wrong wife." Sadly, the writing was not the main problem. This book was littered with tropes. Now it is very hard to write a purely original YA fantasy, but I do expect a level of ingenuity. I will list a couple of the tropes revealed in the first chapters so I don't spoil anything. -Heroine tries to run away from her marriage. -Sister is ill. -Arranged marriage to protect the heroine and for the greater good. -Cruel, power-hungry king and a handsome prince that hates everything about his father. -Heroine is a genius assassin in a male-dominated order. How many people would die because of her? Mia Rose is our heroine. She was raised by the leader of the Circle which consists of Hunters and Huntresses that assassinate Gwyrach, magical women that are known to the general public as being the descendants of demons. She is pretty self-centered honestly, but that doesn't become extremely clear until the end. She is also not the independent woman that you would first believe. She heavily depends on those around her for basically everything. In all honesty, she is pretty forgettable. I finished this last night and I am having a hard time remembering her. Not what I want from a heroine. The plot twists concerning her were very obvious. "I prefer whom I prefer. Girls. Boys." The true star of this book is Quin. He is a bisexual prince with an affinity for music and a skillful cook. He is the ultimate feminist and I loved basically everything about him. It got to the point where I was reading for him and not Mia. He accepts his duties with grace and dreams of helping the people of his kingdom. I like how Barton approached his sexuality. While he is very blunt about it, it does not overpower his character in any way. It does not define him or his actions. He reminds me a lot of Rhysand from  A Court of Thorns and Roses . That is a good thing. See quote below to realize how awesome Quin is. "She felt Tristan's eyes scratch over her bare skin. 'I've never seen you in the flesh before. A pity to execute a thing so pretty.' 'She's not a thing,' Quin growled." Overall, this was pretty disappointing. The description and cover got my hopes up. I honestly thought about not finishing this book more than once. The ending was the best, yet still not very good. I felt like I was reading a first draft. As it is now, I would not purchase this. I will give it 1.5 stars, mainly because of Quin and two plot twists at the end. Sadly, I cannot recommend. Quotes were taken from an ARC of the book and may be subjected to change prior publication. My heartfelt thanks to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nemo (The Moonlight Library)

    This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Mia has been training and studying hard for the past three years in preparation to kill the demon that killed her mother. In Mia's world, all women are at risk of turning into Gwyrach, powerful, magical women, the spawn of demons, with the power to still a heart and freeze the blood. Unfort This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Mia has been training and studying hard for the past three years in preparation to kill the demon that killed her mother. In Mia's world, all women are at risk of turning into Gwyrach, powerful, magical women, the spawn of demons, with the power to still a heart and freeze the blood. Unfortunately, Mia's father, the master Hunter of Gwyrach, has arranged for her to marry the prince of the realm, and at the wedding, the Gwyrach power within Mia blooms and she ends up on the run with the Prince, now the very thing she has been taught to hate, fear, and murder. Heart of Thorns had such an interesting set up that I didn't mind what happened AFTER Mia turns into a Gwyrach. Mia was a dedicated Huntress-in-training, studying hard to the point where this is probably the most book-knowledgeable YA character I've read since Hermione from Harry Potter. She could recite muscle, tendon, and vein names from memory and casually drop them into her narration, to the point where sometimes I was confused about what action was actually taking place because she'd use the precise name of the muscle without any indication of the actual location on the body, and I wasn't sure if something was happening with her elbow or her ankle. Her overall mission was to kill the Gwyrach that killed her mother, and apart from mentioning that she was able to stay focused on this, I really don't want to spoil what happens because it unfolded in such a lovely way that I want to keep that mystery for other readers (which probably explains why the blurb was so vague about the plot). Apart from Mia, the Prince was also a cool dude who was, I think, bisexual. Mia also had a close childhood friend who was gay, so yay for diversity. There was also several characters with disabilities present which was nice to see because I know some readers whinge about diversity, so there you go, this novel has diverse sexualities, including characters I haven't mentioned that I don't want to spoil, and diverse abilities. One of my favourite parts about the novel was Mia's realisation of her own internal misogyny towards women. At first, Mia believed women were dangerous and stupid, but if course, she was special because she was going to become a Hunter, like her dad. It isn't until well into the novel that Mia actually learns about her own misogyny and how the propaganda in her kingdom has led to her culture's twisted beliefs about women and Gwyrach. This is definitely a feminist novel in that respect, even if on opening at first it seems like 'every other' fantasy where women are casually abused at the hands of more powerful men. Mia thinks she's not like other girls, but it turns out she actually is, and that's cool not only to realise as a reader but to watch Mia's own understanding of it as well. The writing was generally of a pretty high standard, although sometimes I felt like the author was deliberately using less familiar language to show off a large vocabulary. Luckily, I was reading on my Kindle, so I could find the definition of words quite easily, and it turns out in every case where I checked, the word that was unfamiliar to me was actually very specific in its use, so hey, the author was pretty smart in that respect, except that it interrupted the flow of reading to look it up. I'm not dumb either, I have a tertiary degree in English Literature, but maybe I'm just not used to authors being so specific, and right, and less poetic and generic in their writing. Overall I would say this fits pretty comfortably into the exact kind of thing I like to read: YA fantasy, magical princess coming into own power, with the added bonus of liberal sexual diversity and a narrator who comes to rethink her own beliefs. I enjoyed reading it, and though I won't be hounding after the sequel, I probably would read it if I could find it in my library.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

    ARC kindly provided by Edelweiss. All right. Okay. So... I'm still really torn on my opinion on this one. There were some good things that I really liked, but a couple of things really didn't work for me. The good - A strong female protagonist that doesn't need anyone to protect her. (In theory, that is. She didn't seem to do much protecting of herself either but it was implied a lot that she didn't need anyone to..) - Interesting side characters - our Prince is not a soft cardboard cut out and one ARC kindly provided by Edelweiss. All right. Okay. So... I'm still really torn on my opinion on this one. There were some good things that I really liked, but a couple of things really didn't work for me. The good - A strong female protagonist that doesn't need anyone to protect her. (In theory, that is. She didn't seem to do much protecting of herself either but it was implied a lot that she didn't need anyone to..) - Interesting side characters - our Prince is not a soft cardboard cut out and one of the girls that comes into the story is quite interesting. - And um... hmmmm I guess my opinion needs to be less torn. - But no, really, the plot twist and ending had a lot of promise! The bad - So. Many. Cliches. "Don't we all want to believe in something bigger than ourselves?" "Mia wasn't sure when love had come to mean a cage." -The writing was quite choppy at times. And there is an entire chapter consisting of dialogue in bullet point formation.. - The world building could have been a lot better. There was this vague outline of the world, with no substance in the middle. Everyone thinks the women are evil. End of story. No reason why. Not even at the end. And how how were the women identified as having magic? Tell me more about the other kingdoms! Are they at war? Is there peace? I don't know. - Mia had studied anatomy and had this weird fixation with it, which translated into really weird narration at times. Like, really weird. And that's coming from a doctor who understood all the terminology. "My whole cerebrum is on fire.". Yeah.... okay lady. Some of the medical terms were wrong... but I'm not going to go there. - Okay. Now for the hard part. So, one group of people say that the reason that it's only women that can have magic is because of how they've been treated. "We were hunted and killed for thousands of years, long before we had magic. We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman's body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt."... "It is our bodies crying out for justice, seeking to right centuries of wrongs." Which.. in theory is lovely. Don't get me wrong, I am a die hard feminist. And I absolutely don't want to get into fights about this, and I know that in a day and age such as this one it was 100 times worse than now because we have found our voices. But there was a bit too much man hate here for me. It felt like most of the male characters were driven only by greed or lust, except of course the love interest or anyone related to the MC. And that the real power of women was "enthralling" men - ie making them love or lust after you. Nooo. Give me a strong lovely lady that protects herself by stabbing out eyeballs and ripping out hearts. I am all for empowering women, and if people love this part then good for them, but this made me a little uncomfortable. Overall, a confusing read. I think I'll pick up the next one but who knows what will happen. --------- This is going to be a difficult review, I'm quite conflicted. RTC

  25. 4 out of 5

    Finley Fergus

    i was one of this book's early readers. it's my favorite YA book in a long, long time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Ahhhhhhhhh! 💙💙 Okay. I literally just finished this book and that ending is insane. I love it. I shall try not to spoil it though. I have to say that I really enjoyed this throughout but the first 50 or 60 pages were nothing too different. The cliffhanger around page 70 (where my buddy read paused overnight) was where I first thought “I wish I could read this all in one go”! I didn’t see that coming at all. It’s an easy read, and I enjoyed the way it was written. In many ways it does hit a lot of Ahhhhhhhhh! 💙💙 Okay. I literally just finished this book and that ending is insane. I love it. I shall try not to spoil it though. I have to say that I really enjoyed this throughout but the first 50 or 60 pages were nothing too different. The cliffhanger around page 70 (where my buddy read paused overnight) was where I first thought “I wish I could read this all in one go”! I didn’t see that coming at all. It’s an easy read, and I enjoyed the way it was written. In many ways it does hit a lot of the YA tropes - forced marriage, couple not sure of each other but learning to like or love, fleeing angry people. But it also subverted a couple - Mia has been training to hunt Gwyrach, but it’s Quin that sorts their food. Quin’s backstory to a degree as well, though I won’t spoil it. I also love that it’s a world where only women have magic and the mythos of why. Character wise - I liked Mia a lot, and her scientific approach appealed to me. I liked Quin too, a lot in places! But also occasionally found him a little wishy washy. Dom was a fab addition. I wanted more of Karri, she is a badass! I wanted to see her recognised for that! And Angelyne, hmm. You don’t see enough of her personality early on, but I do like that Mia is always trying to look out for her. And then the ending. This is definitely where the book came into its own, for me. I didn’t see pretty much anything that happened in the last Part coming. Possibly should have done! I can’t quite believe how it played out and I need the next book right now!! I definitely want/need to know what happens next. As much as I was surprised by it, I loved it. I feel I shouldn’t because of what happened, but I really really love when a book surprises me!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laury Bryant

    ACTUAL RATING 3.5⭐ Don’t get me wrong this was unique and interesting. It kept me wanting to read but I found parts of it so boring and there was nothing connecting me to the characters. The writing was beautiful and the ending was good. But the rest of it was kind of boring and not a lot happened. I wish there was more character development, maybe that way I could of connected with the characters and cared about them, but I just didn’t. I wanted more relationship with Quinn & Mia, they sound ACTUAL RATING 3.5⭐️ Don’t get me wrong this was unique and interesting. It kept me wanting to read but I found parts of it so boring and there was nothing connecting me to the characters. The writing was beautiful and the ending was good. But the rest of it was kind of boring and not a lot happened. I wish there was more character development, maybe that way I could of connected with the characters and cared about them, but I just didn’t. I wanted more relationship with Quinn & Mia, they sounded like they would go well together. The ending was good with the plot twist, I didn’t see it coming but probably for me that was the most interesting part of the book. And while I’m giving it a fairly low rating, it’s only for the points I’ve mentioned. I did enjoy this book apart from the boring bits. And I would recommend it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    hannah ♡ peanutbutter&books (on hiatus)

    mixed feelings about this one! for one, I get why the rating for this is relatively low—the characters were ridiculous, the plot was predictable, the message was pretty heavy-handed, etc. but then again, I had fun reading this, and considering I usually rate books based on my enjoyment... this is probably a 3.5-4 stars for me. 💖 review to come

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily Cait

    2.5 stars. I was given access to a free digital ARC of this text through work as an #indigoemployee in exchange for an honest review. It was presented to me as earth shattering new feminist fantasy... and it was just your standard YA fantasy. All of which, post-Tamora Pierce, tends to have a badass female character who does the feminism... I think to be ground breaking, a YA feminist fantasy text needs to be more interventional. (My disappointment/indifference could largely be due to the email t 2.5 stars. I was given access to a free digital ARC of this text through work as an #indigoemployee in exchange for an honest review. It was presented to me as earth shattering new feminist fantasy... and it was just your standard YA fantasy. All of which, post-Tamora Pierce, tends to have a badass female character who does the feminism... I think to be ground breaking, a YA feminist fantasy text needs to be more interventional. (My disappointment/indifference could largely be due to the email that accompanied the file to this text in which the sender was so super excited about this text...) If you want a YA fantasy, great! You will probably like this. If you want something that revolutionizes the genre and marketing category with it's subversions and innovations, this is not it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    ALEXA

    3.5 stars! I went into this one not entirely remembering what it was about, but I think that worked in its favor. It does have a lot of familiar fantasy tropes, but I like the direction the author took with them and I’m curious about where it will go next. The only reason I can’t rate it higher is because for all that I liked Mia, I didn’t feel as personally connected to her as I would have wanted to be.

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