Author: Instisar Khanani
Narrator: Shiromi Arserio
Audiobook Length: 14 hours 50 minutes
A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own.
Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.
When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.
With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.
Thorn came back on my radar after I randomly selected the novel for my First Lines Friday post. Also, the sequel’s release earlier this year was an additional reminder of this series. It is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale, The Goose Girl, which I unfortunately never read. If you’ve never heard of the original or if you’ve read it before, you will most likely still enjoy this novel as it is an excellent version of the tale.
Princess Alyrra is bullied endlessly by her brother and her mother does not care with little to know love for her daughter. Alyrra wishes to separate herself from her family and fade into the background. She believes she has found her escape when the King of Menaiya betroths Alyrra to his son, Prince Kestrin. On her way to meet Prince Kestrin, Alyrra meets the mysterious Lady who curses Alyrra. Her body is switched with her travel companion, Valka, who has aspirations for the throne and hatred for Alyrra. Now known as Thorn, Alyrra uses this chance to create a new life as a goose girl, but there may be more consequences than she realizes to this switch. The main story goes through Alyrra’s struggle with wanting her new life and building up the courage to fight for her original life.
Alyrra is a fantastic main character and you find yourself caring about her just catching a break and finding happiness. She has a lot of fear based on her past, which at first glance is difficult to understand as you wonder why she does not escape her family earlier, but the author did a great job of painting the entire picture of the character. Alyrra’s past has greatly shaped her personality, but you see there is a lot hiding beneath the surface and she just needs to find the courage to let it out. She throws herself into her new life as a goose girl and I loved the friendships that she formed along the way. Prince Kestrin comes into play during her time as a goose girl and I loved their interactions. I also loved that there was a lot more to his character than first meets the eye.
Overall, the characters and story were all unexpected, in a good way. There were a lot more plot twists than I thought and I loved how everything came together in the end. The pacing of this story is slower in the beginning, but it does pick up towards the middle. After finishing this story, I am excited to circle back to the prequel novel Brambles that gives more background to Alyrra. I am also excited to try The Bone Knife, which sets up the new main character Rae, which will be featured in a duology, also known as books two and three in the overall Dauntless Path series.