Thorn is a retelling of the “Goose Girl” fairy tale. Here, we have Princess Alyrra, who has absolutely no value to her own family, slated to marry into the family of the powerful kingdom they border. Alyrra’s not really sure why – her own kingdom is small, and she’s not sure what she can bring to Menaiya. There’s also the small matter that their royal family is dying out.
Alyrra is not in favor in court because she dared expose the girl who her brother wished to marry as a thief. Valka also tried to frame a servant. Alyrra has at least won the loyalty of the servants by her actions, but her brother and mother are disgusted by her. And it’s Valka who’s chosen to be her companion when she journeys to Menaiya.
It’s this journey where Alyrra finds out why the Menaiyan Royal family is dying out – a powerful Fae Lady is capturing them, and she has enlisted Valka to help her ensnare the Prince. Valka and Alyrra switch bodies, and Alyrra is placed under a spell so she cannot discuss it with anyone. She’s banished to be the goose girl, though she does still hold power over Valka, so it’s not a complete banishment.
I really liked what the author did with this story – there’s a lot going on in the kingdom for Alyrra to notice, and her prince is a well fleshed out character. I know this book was originally self-published – I can see why it was picked up by a regular publisher.
“Brambles” is the story of when Alyrra exposes Valka. You really wouldn’t want to read it if you hadn’t already read Thorn – I think it’s more powerful when you know the consequences of that day.