The fantasy elements are poorly explained and whimsical, hence the Caraval comparison. But this is better than Caraval. And the simple-mined yet good-hearted protagonist reminded me too much of Alina Starkova. Even though plot-wise Grisha is much better than this.
The premise seemed unique and extremely intriguing when I read the synopsis and the reviews.
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Where Sorcery of Thorns Went Wrong
But soon after starting Sorcery of Thorns my hope began to crumble.
It has all the clichés you can imagine in an average YA. Dull, naive, easily trusting, easily enraged MC. No mentionable character development. Interesting premise, weak execution. No attempts at unpredictability.
The characters were painfully slow to understand even the most obvious clues that readers would see from miles ahead. Every single action of every single person felt unnatural, as if they acted that way just because the author wanted them to – to further the plot.
One of my gripes with Sorcery of Thorns was that it was almost mind-bogglingly predictable. Everything happened as I had expected it to happen. There were very, very poor attempts at red herrings but they were laughably obvious.
Ooh! look a mysterious devilishly good looking sarcastic bad boy acting all strange so that MC suspects him to be evil. I wonder if he’s a good inside tortured soul secretly in love with her, and the future love interest? Yeah. He is.
Look! A benevolent older guy in position of power who seems wayyy too friendly to the protagonist for no reason… Maybe he’s the villain?
Voila! He is.
*End of Spoiler*
There were pointless scenes just for the sake of it. One of them played out like this: The villains are reputable people and under the guise of friendliness to the protagonist. They invite her into their home and treat her nicely so that no one suspects a thing.
Okay. Motive clear.
But after that, they go to the troubles of enchanting the protagonist unconscious (which doesn’t work on her but they don’t know it yet as she pretends being enchanted) and then bring her to the place where they plot “sinister plots” and basically spill all their evil plans in front of her supposedly unconscious form and then wake her up under the pretense that she’d probably fallen and lost consciousness not knowing she’d heard everything and then return her to her room.
Why’d they bring her there and reveal everything thinking she can’t hear anything. Why bring her there? Why talk about the plans in front of her?
What purpose did this event serve other than just lazily informing the protagonist of their intentions?
This is just an example. The whole story is littered with holes like this.
And also, Is this even a YA Fantasy if there’s not at least one makeover scene like this?
She wheeled Elisabeth around to face the mirror. Elisabeth stared at the girl reflected there, barely recognizing herself. Her hair cascaded over her shoulders in smooth, glossy chestnut waves, and she was cleaner than she had ever been before in her life. Her blue eyes contrasted vividly against her pink, scrubbed cheeks. While she had never possessed much in the way of curves, the sapphire gown made her figure look proud and statuesque.
Things that kept me from giving Sorcery of Thorns 1 star.
Elisabeth was kinda silly and weirdly naive but she was likable. Even adorable at times with her resilience. I liked her.
The Female Bonds
Relationships depicted between Elisabeth and other female characters were too wholesome. No unnecessary girl hate, no mean pretty girls who were rude to the MC for no reason.
The Director, Katrien, Mercy…all these women had some very sweet interactions with Elisabeth and I appreciated that.
I especially liked this excerpt:
She now understood that the world wasn’t kind to young women, especially when they behaved in ways men didn’t like, and spoke truths that men weren’t ready to hear. No one would listen to Mercy, just as no one had listened to her.
At least, unlike some YA stories masquerading as feminist even though in reality they can’t be further from it, Sorcery of Thorns actually is feminist. Again, I appreciated that.
The very cool concept of grimoires. I now want to read another, more serious story based on ancient, sentient books.
Silas. He was an interesting and complex character, by the standard of this book anyway. I cared for him more than I cared for Elisabeth. Even though his ending seemed a little too fan service-y.
Truth be told I feel bad for bashing Sorcery of Thorns.
It sometimes read like a middle grade book (apart from that one romantic scene and even then I stifled the urge to sing “Thorn and Scrivener sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”) and that’s why I kept feeling like I shouldn’t judge it so critically.
But it’s not middle-grade. It’s YA.
An extremely juvenile YA, but YA nonetheless. And I wanted more complexity from it.
So here’s my rating for this cute little story: