YA should have more original fairytale-type books like Stephanie Garber’s Once Upon A Broken Heart and Gina Chen’s Violet Made of Thorns. That’s my recommendation to make the world a better place.
🌹 Fairytale-esque world
❤🔥 Rivals/enemies to lovers romance
🌌 Prophecies and seers
A huge thank you to the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!
TL;DR: A girl who can see the future gets caught up in courtly politics while scheming to get what she wants against the prince she hates. Age Rating: 15 and up.
Violet Made of Thorns is an original fairytale that isn’t afraid to show the dark currents running underneath the magic. It’s whimsical, beautiful, evocative, and seductive, full of courtly scheming, terrifying prophecies, and a protagonist that would burn the world down if she could. I can’t wait to follow Gina Chen’s career because she has the potential to become one of my all-time favorite authors!
We follow Violet, a Seer who can see snippets of the future in a kingdom surrounded by the woods. When Prince Cyrus rises to the throne at the end of summer, he plans to relieve her of her position, unless Violet can change the future. And when Violet realizes that her choices will result in the prince’s life or death, she has to make some difficult decisions to ensure her own survival…and perhaps that of the kingdom.
First of all, V-to the-i-to-the-o-to-the-l-to-the-e-to-the-t*. Violet is definitely one of the more selfish characters I’ve read. And you know what? I’m not mad! I knew going into this that she was a morally grey protagonist, and I think knowing that helped me appreciate her character for what it was rather than yelling “WHY AREN’T YOU BEING MORE HEROIC” at my poor defenseless Kindle screen. Her motivations are almost always self-focused, which makes her an interesting character to read from. I actually enjoyed watching her scheme and butt heads with almost everyone. Strangely enough, it made her feel more like a normal human being rather than The Main Character. It was refreshing. I mean, just read this quote (subject to change) from the author:
“We often discuss representation in strictly positive terms, citing characters who are role models who try to make the right choices, but being human also means being wonderfully, terribly flawed. Hiding that truth in our fiction sends the message that we ought to run away from the ugly parts of ourselves rather than face them.”
*i definitely should have done that little rap for a shorter name…
She did not have to go that hard, but I’m glad she did. This story is pretty self-contained. There’s not a ton of action in the way that some people might expect. This is mainly a story full of political, courtly scheming, complex character relationships, and prophecies. It kind of feels like the first book in The Ember Quartet in that we don’t leave the city to travel the rest of the world Chen’s created (at least, not yet).
“All the tale needs is the villain, and the line between revered and reviled is as thin as an accusation.”
OKAY BUT THE ROMANCE???
Violet despises Prince Cyrus because he’s far too honorable for his own good. Cyrus hates Violet because she’s far too selfish for the good of anyone other than her. And yet, Violet saved his life when they were kids, meaning that they’re undoubtedly connected. Their chemistry is hilarious to me because they both truly dislike each other, and yet…there’s a spark of something there. It reminds me of how the enemies-to-lovers trope was originally supposed to be.
I’m really hoping that there’s a sequel because I’d love to see more of this world! The ending is absolutely insane. Also, there are so many elements of already-existing fairytales!
In the end, Violet Made of Thorns is a fun, unique story, perfect for people who want an older YA book. It’s full of romance, intrigue, prophecies, and scheming! It comes out on July 28th, so be sure to order a copy, add it to Goodreads, and add it to Storygraph! Tell me: what’s a book that reads like a fairytale?
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