Review: Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas (Ash & Bramble #2)


Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas // VBC ReviewRose & Thorn (Ash & Bramble #2)
Sarah Prineas
Published: Oct. 18, 2016 (HarperTeen)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Once upon a time, there was a girl who carried a curse. The curse showed itself as a rose upon her wrist. Two protectors conspired to steal the girl away in the night when she was little more than a newborn. A magical spell keeps those who would do the girl harm from finding her, but it also forces the girl and her guardian to live away from civilization.

Not long after her sixteenth birthday, the girl, Rose, learns that the boundary that protected her has been breached. Fleeing from her home, Rose isn’t prepared for what she finds in the outside world. Happenstance brings Rose to the gates of the City where the Watch guards and the Lord Protector holds sway. But the City holds secrets of its own, and maybe it wasn’t happenstance that brought Rose to the City. Maybe something much more sinister is at work, and Rose has just stepped into a story where her curse could bring about catastrophic consequences if triggered.

Together, with the mysterious and taciturn Griff, a member of the Watch, and his partner Quirk, Rose will embark on a journey trying to change the landscape of her story. But is she already too far into her story to change anything?

I loved the idea of Story being this omnipotent entity kind of controlling all the people like pieces on a chess board. The end goal of course is to gain power through that reverence. The juxtaposition between stories and our destinies, coupled with our beliefs, was so incredibly clever. But I also wonder if this idea that the characters are in this world/story which in reality is a construct of Story was also the downfall of the book for me as well.

Meaning that all the characters seemed like stock characters. Everything is gray, there’s no vibrancy. All actions and reactions felt very convenient and generic. Characters end up exactly where they need to be, but is that because of Story’s intervention, or was that just the writing in general? Do the characters tend to lack depth because they’ve been living under the cowl of Story, or is it something else?

The book I’d like to read would have shown some of the after. I imagine the sun shining and the grass growing green with birds twittering in the sky.

The fact that I have to keep in mind so many possibilities as to why things might be represented the way they are, takes me out of the story. I wanted more growth for my characters, especially Rose and Griff, our Sleeping Beauty and Prince as the case may be. Rose holds on to her naiveté, and Griff abides by the rule that all story-telling is evil, for a little too long before they start to break out of their shells and actually start doing something about their plight.

Overall, I absolutely loved the idea with the villain being so seated within stories and fairytales in Rose & Thorn. If fairytale retellings are your cup of tea I’d say give this one a try. Sarah Prineas does great making the story of Sleeping Beauty identifiable, but twisting it into her own tale. For me, though, it just didn’t meet my preferences in terms of how it was executed.

Sexual content: kissing, attempted rape

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