Violet Made of Thorns
- Author: Gina Chen
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: July 26, 2022
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Series: Violet Made of Thorns #1
Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: blood, murder
A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.
Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.
But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.
Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.
This story has elements of various fairy tales mashed up into something completely new, with a protagonist who is more of an anti-heroine, a slow-burn star-crossed love interest, and a prophecy hanging over everything that can doom the world as they know it.
Violet is the character who I hated to love. She’s a street kid who was elevated to life at the palace because she is a Seer and happened to save the life of the prince, drawing the attention of the royal family. As such, she has grown up scrabbling for everything she had, leaving her with a certain sense of manipulative cunning that seven years of palace life haven’t quite managed to rid her of. The king has manipulated her talent to serve his own ends, and in her own interest, she has gone along with it. It worked well for her, but also changed her dynamic with Prince Cyrus, and they hate each other intensely, setting up an enemies to lovers situation. While they play the enemies part extremely well, I wasn’t quite sold on the lovers aspect. It doesn’t help that Cyrus never won my heart at any point in the story. I hated him intensely, and never felt like he earned my respect.
While the story focuses a lot on Violet’s skill as a Seer, we never really learn much about what she can do with it. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t fully understand her own power, since she wasn’t fully trained. The story also spends a lot of time discussing prophecies about the Fairywood and these monsters, but it doesn’t delve too deeply into it, leaving loose ends that weren’t really wrapped up at the end of the story, even though everything else was.
Overall, this was an interesting story, although it wasn’t my favorite in the genre. While I haven’t read Serpent and Dove, I have read The Cruel Prince, and it doesn’t really feel like an appropriate comparison, with the compulsive readability and immersive world that was created in that story, with it’s morally gray characters that showed a lot of development in terms of redeemability and growth. However, this wasn’t a bad book and it was creative, especially with the inclusion of a diverse, Asian character in a lead position, particularly in the fact that she wasn’t your typical heroine, but rather a realistic, flawed, and relatable character, and an openly lesbian side character in the royal family.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 5
Categories: Book Review