Back in 2015, I bought a hardcover copy of Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, craving a Disney-inspired fairytale retelling. I loved the novel the first time I read it, and wanted to do an updated review for 2019. I ended up finishing this re-read only a couple days before 2020 began… so this review is long overdue!
What I Liked:
Mulan Meets Sleeping Beauty
The ultimate premise of Princess of Thorns is that our main characters, Fey-blessed fugitive Princess Aurora, and death-cursed Princess Niklaas, make for a charming pair as they combine their quests for mutual benefit. However, in order to convince Niklaas to fulfill his part of the deal, Aurora pretends to be her younger brother, Jor, thus making for an epic Mulan-inspired plot. Aurora is also the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, bringing in some vibes from that fairytale as well. The ultimate result is a high-action retelling mashup that will leave readers admiring the author’s creativity.
Chemistry Between Aurora and Niklaas
Throughout Aurora’s time as Jor, and when her true identity is revealed to Niklaas, the two have charming chemistry as both friends and romantic interests. Their hilarious banter will leave readers fangirling and wanting more stories featuring these characters.
Dual Point-of-View Writing Style
Normally I’m not a huge fan of dual POV writing styles unless they’re absolutely necessary, but Jay’s use of this POV system greatly enhances the story for readers. By having both Aurora and Niklaas’s unique perspectives, readers are able to discover their true motives despite the secrets they keep from each other. This makes for a juicy read that leaves readers emotionally conflicted.
What I Disliked:
Additional Ogre Queen Point-of-View
Something I struggled with during both reads of this novel is the additional, sporadic POV of the antagonistic Ogre Queen. Though parts of the POV may have been necessary to make the ultimate conclusion make sense, the POV was written in a very odd way, often causing me to skim over it.
Though the content in this novel is written for a mainstream teen audience, as a 20-something fan of cleaner fiction, I didn’t care for some of the talk of Niklaas’s rampant sexual past, as he was considerably young to have such a history.
If you’re wary about reading the book because of this, Niklaas’s mindset on the matter does change in the end, and the details of his past are not mentioned in graphic detail.
I ended up docking Princess of Thorns a star from my previous rating due to a combination of the issues listed above. If you’re a fan of fantasy and retellings, and don’t mind PG-13 content, you may enjoy this novel.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What is your favorite mainstream YA fairytale retelling? I hope to read The Stolen Kingdom by Bethany Atazadeh soon, which is a retelling of Aladdin. Be on the lookout for a review!
As you can probably tell, I’m trying to get back into posting book reviews on Fridays. Granted, it may not happen every Friday, but I’ll try to make sure content of some sort comes out twice a week, whether it be a book review, movie review, or something else.
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.