Book Review: The Castle of Thorns

Published November 3rd 2021

Author: Elle Beaumont

To end the murders, she must live with the beast of the forest.

After surviving years with a debilitating illness, Gisela must prove she is more than her ailment. She discovers her father, King Werner of Tursch, has been growing desperate for the herbs that are key to her health. So much so, he’s willing to cross paths with a deadly legend of Todesfall Forest to retrieve the remedy.

Knorren is the demon of the forest, one who slaughters anyone who trespasses into his land. When King Werner steps into the demon’s territory, desperately pleading for safe passage for the sake of his daughter’s health, Knorren toys with the idea. However, not without a cost. King Werner must deliver his beloved Gisela to the demon or suffer dire consequences.

With unrest spreading through the kingdom, and its people growing tired of a king who won’t put an end to the demon of Todesfall Forest, Gisela must make a choice. To become Knorren’s prisoner forever, or risk the lives of her beloved people.

The Castle of Thorns was a unique take on a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. While this story is more classified as an adult fantasy, it can be read by a younger YA audience and be enjoyed by readers of a variety of ages. The story opens with our “beauty” Princess Gisela. The story opens with her as a child and gives an introduction to her chronic illness, epilepsy, although it is undiagnosed. Her father, King Werner, gives her herbs that help subside symptoms, but do not cure her. As her father worries greatly about her well-being, he protects her and can sometimes stifle her freedom for fear of her health worsening. Unfortunately, the only way to collect the herbs is to travel through a dangerous route that includes a murderous demon fox known as Knorren.

For the past 500 years, Knorren kills for his own pleasure and shows no remorse for his way of life. When Werner and Knorren cross paths during a journey to collect herbs, Knorren strikes a surprising bargain, Knorren will let Werner live in exchange for Gisela. The portrayal of Werner was well done, as he is a father desperate to protect his daughter, however, he sometimes goes overboard and sacrifices the needs of his people to accomplish this. Another interesting addition to the story are Gisela’s sisters who are overshadowed by her in their father’s eyes. While they love her as a sister, there is a lot of resentment, as they do not receive the same attention as Gisela. Eventually, Gisela ends up with Knorren and is together with him as a prisoner in the castles hidden in the thorns.

The story includes both Knorren and Gisela’s perspectives, so the reader can follow each along on their journeys. While Gisela’s characters growth was more gradual over time, Knorren’s was a little rushed for me. He begins to care for Gisela and cannot explain why and I would have loved a little more build up to this change of heart. Gisella’s journey from being sheltered from everything to learning to not only be mentally stronger but physically was a unique take. She knows she has limitations from her illness, but I liked that she explored how she is more capable than she thinks. Both Knorren and Gisela share many fun interactions with a lot of wit and I love the two characters opening up to each other.

Overall, I love fairytale retellings and this was no exception. Gisela is a standout hero as she is “normal” where she is relatable to the average reader. While she has an illness that is her defining characteristic at the very beginning, it is not who she is as a person. While there were some elements that were predictable and followed the source material, I greatly enjoyed this rendition. This novel was a very fun read and I cannot wait to read more from this author!

**I want to give a special thank you to BookSirens and the author, Elle Beaumont, for a review copy of this very entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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