After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.
Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.
Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.
Amber Mitchell graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Creative Writing. She likes traveling to new places, reading, D&D, history, good puns and great food.
When she isn’t putting words on paper, she is obsessing over the newest fandom in her life or exploring new places with her husband Brian. They live a small town in Florida with their young son and three cats, where they are plotting their next great adventure.
I'm hovering between 3.5-4 stars. The beginning (the first 30%) was SO GOOD. Seriously, I had no doubt I was going to rate this 5 stars. It was immediately gripping - I felt for the heroine so much and my heart just ached for her. Unfortunately it lost a bit of momentum for me - mostly because the heroine did WAY too much thinking about the love interest was amidst all the more important things going on. Regardless, the plot was really fun and I still recommend the book!
Basically Rose is the 'star performer' of the Garden - a traveling burlesque full of girls who've been kidnapped/captured and forced into the rouse. It's horribly sad and quite graphic how everything is written (in no way is it romanticized or glorified - but be aware.) The garden master keeps the girls in line by harming the 'wilted' girls - girls who are raised alongside of the performer girls.
Anyway, after a horrific tragedy that I won't mention, Rose realizes she must escape so that she can find a way to free the rest of the girls. During a performance in front of the emperor, she ends up taking someone hostage - not realizing he's the ex prince and leader of a powerful rebellion.
That all happens within the first few chapters so the book starts off VERY intense.
Some of the highlights for me were the magic system (totally unique and looks super cool in my head) AND the book takes place in a fantasy nation that I believe was inspired by a mix of Japanese and Chinese cultures (I'm not an expert and I could be wrong but according to the terminology/descriptions, this is what it seemed like.) And Rayce, the former crown prince, was pretty much wonderful all around.
*Minor spoilers below - nothing big*
Rose ends up joining the rebellion, mostly because she wants to convince them to help rescue her friends. Things get pretty interesting as they are sent on missions. The pacing was really great all around. I also loved the fact that Rose's secret was obvious and the author didn't try to make it a big reveal. It was never meant to be a plot twist - she lets the reader piece it together it in Rose's thoughts without a major 'aha' moment.
Let me be clear... this is a fantasy romance. It is the main focus (at least it is a semi slow burn). I'm not really one to complain about that if it's done well - and even though I loved Rose as a character, I got reaaaally tired of her overanalyzing her feelings towards Rayce. Even amidst major scenes, she was thinking about him WAY too much. It didn't even really line up with her character because she wasn't petty or whiny at all. Some writing advice I received myself was to not 'think too much for your reader' and I believe this is what was happening here.
The whole 'garden' aspect was so unique (and heartbreaking). Mitchell's storytelling was phenomenal and she definitely knows how to break your heart. While there were several creative elements, the main plot line wasn't exactly anything new after the last 50% but I still enjoyed it. I'm glad I read it and I'd totally read another book by Amber Mitchell.
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to Entangled Publishing, LLC and NetGalley.)
“Something’s happening,” she says. “Something between the Gardener and the emperor, and we can’t let it.”
This was a YA fantasy story about a girl forced to dance in a travelling show.
Rose was quite a caring girl, but she was also a little naïve. I thought that while trying to rescue her sister dancers from the garden was a good thing, thinking she could do it alone was a little silly.
The storyline in this was about Rose being kidnapped when she was only 8, and forced to work as a dancer in a troop called ‘the Garden’. She had a chance to escape, and instead ended up as a hostage to a rebel. This probably worked out better for her though as she had zero plans or ideas as to how to rescue her sisters and where she’d go afterwards anyway. We also got a storyline about Rose having a secret, but I guessed what that was pretty early on. I felt like I should have enjoyed this book a lot more than I did, but it was just missing something for me.
The ending to this was okay and tied most things up, there was room left for a sequel though.
Sixteen year old Rose has spent the last seven years of her life in captivity being forced to perform in a burlesque type of show for a man known as the Gardener. Rose has learned to do whatever she is told while in captivity because if she doesn't her best friend, Fern, will be punished in her place so Rose as a performer would not be marred. When it's found that Fern has been involved in the rebellion and is killed Rose finds that now is her chance at escape.
During a performance Rose takes the opportunity before her to carry out her plan to escape and free her fellow captives but when her choice of hostage turns out to be the leader of the rebellion, Rayce, Rose finds herself trading in one type of cage for another as he takes her with him and she loses the opportunity to release the other girls. Rose quickly learns though not every man is the same and she finds herself beginning to see Rayce in a different light as she tries to convince him to help free her friends.
Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell is a young adult fantasy read with a rather interesting setting involved with Rose having been captured at a young age and forced to perform for most of her life. There is upheaval in the land as the rebellion tries to right the oppressive leadership all the while Rose is trying to free her friends.
I will say however that while the story is an enjoyable read with good writing and full of action to keep up the interest I found the overall idea behind the plot to be a bit predictable. Young Rose had a secret that of course seemed rather obvious to me all throughout and when it was revealed I had been correct. The relationship growing between Rose and Rayce of course was also easy to spot as soon as they meet. But even with it's predictability in the plot it was still a fun young adult read overall.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
2.5 stars because that writing was mediocre and I had to skim it pages at a time. This is a terrific read if you're looking for a cleaner, Young Adult version of A Promise of Fire, which is a mediocre book as well that I somehow loved beyond all sense and reason.
This book? Wholly unoriginal. Fun to read, but offers little beyond mindless and redundant entertainment.
THE STORY Sixteen-year-old Rose has been part of this burlesque troop of slave performers ever since she was kidnapped from her home. She has a speshull secret about her important identity--if you missed this part, there's something wrong with you because it's hinted at every several pages--that is important in her interaction with Evil Emperor and in her interaction with a rebel group. Half-hearted secrets and vague world-building of an Asian setting.
THE GOOD 1) The many typical fantasy tropes here made for lots of book chemistry, e.g., kidnapped at a young age from their home, revolutionary band of freedom fighters, secrets and hushed identities, bad guys.
2) The plot was fast-paced.
THE BAD 1) Juvenile writing wasn't for me. Characters are predictable and thinly developed, having only received the most common character motivations to guide their actions, e.g., revenge, money, power. We have a few events early on that could prove powerful and important in the pen of a more skilled author but in this book? These setups for plot and character catalysts missed their shot at being significant.
2) Too fast-paced. The action setup occurred too fast for the inner narrative to catch up. Before the scene was set with the proper tension and fear and grit, we were already executing foolishly simple antics that jumbled one after the other. As a result, I felt pretty disconnected from what was happening versus the importance and impact it should have had.
THE VERDICT A debut novel, you say? I believe it. There's potential here in the vision but needs to be further practiced before this book can come close to the comprehensive maturity and depth that other better Young Adult books have to offer.
Alright, unpopular opinion time. I've checked other reviews of Garden of Thorns and see that I'm way out on this one, but unfortunately this is just the way I feel about it (trust me, this is upsetting as I thought this book was going to blow my mind). When I received this ARC, I couldn't have been happier. The synopsis sound ah-mazing. I started reading immediately and then, around a third of the way through the book I had to stop. I've now skimmed through the rest of the book to the end. The premise was strong and sounded great, then why did I suddenly stop reading? Well, I'll explain below.
For me, the biggest problem with Garden of Thorns is simply that what I imagined this book to be, wasn't what it turned out to be, and the new direction just couldn't capture my attention to keep me reading. Mainly because:
>The start is strong, but the story quickly drops into, I'm not sure how to put it, a slow pace? I'm not sure how to describe how it felt to me, but the best I can do is that it felt like I was treading a familiar garden path in the middle of winter rather than the height of spring. All of the skeleton was there, but it just didn't give me the feeeels.
>I believe the biggest issue with Garden of Thorns was that I just couldn't connect to the MC, Rose. She was very reflective (and I normally don't mind that), but her voice felt a little dry. She felt too cardboard. The mystery was obvious (which I think it was supposed to be obvious), but I didn't feel invested enough to hang around for the big reveals.
>The writing style is good, flows well and is easy to read.
>The secondary characters and romance was too dry and obvious again. Where was the tension? the gorgeous slow-burn? The feels? It all felt flat to me. *enter attractive love interest* *followed by arrival of witty new best friend* *wise words from older companion*
I won't deny that all the components for the formula to work were there, but something important was missing - the feels. That being said, I'm well in the minority here (maybe I've just read one too many fantasy reads at the moment?), so I would still recommend giving Garden of Thorns a go if the synopsis grips your interest, as the premise itself is great and this might just be another readers new favourite read!
*Thank-you to Entangled Teen and Net Galley for this ARC. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Same old story. Exciting adventure that abandons world building to focus on the love interest. It pains me to say that and if I lived on a deserted island and this was the only YA book I had to read, maybe it would have been more memorable.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Entangled Publishing.
“And I realize we’re lying like plucked flowers at our master’s feet, in the perfect position to be stomped back into the earth that we came from.”
Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell was fast paced from the beginning, inviting you into a world where the strongest bloom while those who do not follow the rules are smothered. The story revolves around a girl (a Flower) named Rose from a burlesque entertainment troupe (the Garden) that is worked by kidnapped girls. Rose finds an opportunity to escape, and afterwards works to help the rest of her sisters from the enslavement. Time and time again she must learn to trust and accept help from the new friends she has met. The beginning of the book held a lot of promise as you venture into this screwed up situation where Rose is basically forced to performed perfectly with any mistake punished at the expense at her a Wilted, the girl who takes the damage for the Flower. The writing that worked around the theme of the troupe, The Garden, was woven in beautifully. As the story progressed though it lost its creativeness and became slightly predictable. From the get go you can guess who Rose is and her history. The entire first half or so of the book was spent in cloaked suggestions such as if they only knew who she really was, etc, alluding to something very important within her circumstances. The romance aspect left me a little frustrated. While Rose fought with her growing feelings and learning to trust again, she still kept pushing her love interest away. There were quite a few moments that I wanted to smack her upside her head and tell her to get over herself. This was Rose 90% of the time: I can’t trust him, he’s a man. I can’t tell them my secret, it will ruin my plans. I have to save my sisters, but I can’t do it alone. Loop back to…I can’t trust him, he’s a man. There were just two things that actually bothered me though. One thing I found a little faulty in the story was how easily this large community that she finds herself becoming involved in decides that she can be a part of missions after a few days of training. It seemed rather peculiar that after just a little sword training that was good enough. Also, people kept getting wounded, and though it was mentioned briefly during that moment, it was as if they were super humans and could continue on with little time healing. Examples, shoulder wound - can still fend off a skilled swords men or leg wound – can still jump and run miles to escape from soldiers…who are not wounded. The world building in the book was minimal. While there was a background story of two countries at war the underlying story of it all was slow to develop and was, frankly, pretty basic. There was an elemental aspect that helped Rose’s new friends that wasn’t really quite developed, and honestly just seemed a little too convenient and acted as a crutch for the good guys in the story. Overall, I the story was neither here nor there as far as it being good or bad. It was an entertaining enough read, and while there were a few moments that I was flipping through pages to see what happened next, it wasn’t something that I felt inclined to write home about.
Two girls a flower and a wilted. Rose is the gardener's prize possession. She is a beautiful, talented dancer who shines brightly on stage. Her companion is Fern. The gardener is a cruel man who takes Girls and bends them to be his puppets. He has two sets of girls; the flowers who dance and the girls who keep them in line. The wilted are the girls that take the punishment if a flower steps out of line. No one wants to see an imperfect dancer, so their closest friend takes the blame for any mistakes. The gardener has the perfect blackmail to get the girls to do what he likes. Rose is about to find out how brave, Fern her best friend/non-biological sister is, but the cost will be high. Rose is about to be given the chance to escape but she knows the others will suffer. As she takes to the stage, a plan is formed and a hostage is taken. Little does Rose know, the man she has chosen is no random. He is the leader of the rebellion and their link is more than a passing whisper. Rose is a stage name and her true identity is a closely guarded secret. The gardener has taught her many things but the most important is to trust nobody. Rose is to become more wanted than even the rebel leader himself.
🌺🌸🌹🌷🌺 Garden of Thorns quote: "Rose." "After the rare Varshan desert rose, I assume," he mumbles, nodding to himself. "It'll do just fine." 🌺🌹🌷🌼🌻
Rayce is the rebellion leader. He is on a rescue mission when Rose intercepts his plan and reveals him to the enemy. The two need to get out of the city and fast. Rose wants to save her sisters but Rayce knows it's too dangerous. His plan may be foiled but his new friend is a great prize. He wants to help people and Rose isn't just an ordinary girl.
There are some really great characters in this book. I love the dystopian world Amber Mitchell has created. Rose's identity is pretty obvious from the start but the story kept me entertained throughout. I really liked all the rebellion characters. From the untrusting grumpy one to the father of knowledge. The action was thrilling. The gardener and his men were the perfect bad guys and the fallen kingdom was given a slither of hope. Book 2 is out soon but I felt this can be read as a standalone with a happy ever after. There will be questions at the end of the book but it's basically more of a what next rather than what's happening.
This book is great. 5 stars out of 5. I loved it! I bought this book on sale and I'm lucky enough to have an ARC of War of the Wilted which is out 1st October 2018.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it's uniqueness. It was great getting into a new world and its characters, especially with Rose, Rayce, Oren, Marin and the others. The whole idea of the Garden, Flowers, Wilted, and Trees was interesting as much as the world was. I got the idea that it had a lot of Asian aspects in the book, and the whole kingdoms at war with each other really set the mood for the story.
Overall I really enjoyed the way Rose escaped not only from the Garden but from the cage that the Gardener put her in after years of scaring her into submission and how Rose learned to have hope, trust, and finally be free with the rest of her sisters/Flowers. The whole romance between Rose and Rayce was sweet and made me happy, especially near the end when Rose's secret is revealed and she learns to trust him and to be herself, to fight together in the Rebellion.
I loved “Garden of Thorns.” It features a heroine who kicks butt and an intense political uprising.
The premise has two characters and stories that come together for mutual benefit. Rose was kidnapped as a young child to serve in a burlesque troop made up of underaged slaves. Rayce is leading an uprising against a tyrant. There is romance, but it is sweet and simmering, and not at all graphic. The main plot is focused on the action. Those with weak stomachs beware, the violence is brutal and graphic.
I recommend “Garden of Thorns” for anyone looking for a young adult novel with a strong heroine and a quick-paced plot. I hope there’s a sequel!
This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
Although the book began as something new and different with the idea of the flowers: one girl dancing and the other girl having to pay for the mistakes of the dancing one; it pronto stopped being so different and evolved into a more "typical" book in which we find one of those flowers called Rose escaping and falling alongside the forces of the rebellion lidered by Rayce, which soons turns out to be the love interest of the heroine. The Rebellion wants to change the world the Emperor is constructing, offering things like freedoom, justice, food for everyone, chance of being yourself, end of tirany and so on.
For me it was pretty obvious who Rose really was, although it was nice the way in which it was portrayed and delivered, and the characters were likeable and well rounded (at least the main ones, as the secundary ones don't show much evolution at all) even if they are a bit typical (damsel in distress that can kick ass, hero/love interest). The book had a sound plot and was an okay read, although maybe it could have been shorter on some places.
I loved this story. The writing style kept me engaged, the plot kept things moving forward at a good pace and the characters...who wouldn't love them? I found myself caring about these characters and rooting for their success despite the villians they face (which says a lot to have great villians LOL).
Let me start with the fact that I've been on a streak lately and I've been reading a ton of great books! So I have been extremely fortunate and I think it's because I'm choosing a lot of books that sound like something I would enjoy. I hope that keeps going!
And then let me show you this cover in all its wondrous glory...
So so pretty. I would love to own a physical copy of this book...I love just looking at it. And it represents the story well.
But you can judge that for yourselves...
Rose has a secret.
It has nothing to do with the fact that she is a Flower in the Garden, a sleazy illegal show featuring girls all captured and used in some way. Rose's best friend Fern is what's called a Wilted: anytime the "Flower" Rose screws up in her dance routine or in her behavior, the "Gardener," or head of the show, takes it out on Fern. Each Wilted's body is covered in scars, reminders of their Flower's mistakes.
Rose has been in the Garden for many years, but she is always worried her secret will be discovered and she will be used by someone worse than the Gardener, the only person who knows her secret (and promises not to tell as long as she stays in the Garden).
One day, a major mistake costs Fern her life, and Rose knows what she must do: she must free all the Flowers and Wilteds; she must free her other sisters in slavery. When she chooses the right time, and picks a random stranger during the show to take hostage, she makes a major mistake...
She happened to pick the most wanted man as her hostage.
Now Rose's secret is in danger of being discovered....but she has no choice. The "hostage," the notorious nephew of the Emperor, has decided that picking him out of a masked crowd means she could be an assassin. Rayce cannot make the mistake of letting Rose go. But Rose needs to free her sisters and she needs to keep her secret safe.
But the longer she's away from the Garden, the more the walls she has built up all her life start to crumble around her.
Who is Rayce, this mysterious nephew with the jagged scar across his cheek, the man who runs a rebellion full of people willing to die to change their way of life? Is he someone Rose can trust? Or, if he discovers Rose's secret, will he tell the Emperor in exchange for what he wants...peace for his people?
Who can Rose trust?
Can she trust anyone?
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Definitely. I love the concepts in this book...there's so much to discuss. For one, the culture of Delmar and Zareen. Delmarians live in the nice city surrounding the Emperor. There are temples to different goddesses, and the decor is reminiscent of (perhaps) an Asian influence. Rayce is called the "shogun," and the names of the people and the decor of the city mix elements of sandy deserts and Japanese gardens. You could ask students if they see any examples of cultures and have them describe how they picture Delmar and Zareen.
Zareen has the ability to create light with the rocks around them. Is this a chemical reaction? What could cause such a reaction in the land around them? I had so many questions and I could see more coming from sequels that could quench my curiosity. Though the book is currently a standalone, I think it NEEDS a sequel.
Main point: lots of areas to discuss: sex trafficking in the case of the Garden, Rose's trust issues toward men, and the dynamics of the different societies of Delmar and Zareen. This is a book that could be discussed at length.
Now, once again when it comes to small published books, there are no Lexile scores available for Garden of Thorns. I will have to do my best and use my judgement here, and I encourage y'all to use your own as well. There are no inappropriate scenes despite what the Garden represents, and there isn't any swearing. However, there are some violent scenes. I would say 13 and up to be on the safe side...you all know by now that I always err on the side of caution! But I actually feel comfortable giving this one to my niece to read, and I think she would like it. I don't have a physical copy, but if I did, I would be more than happy to lend it out.
I liked this a lot. I was on the fence with four and five stars...and the only real reason I went with what I went with is because:
There are no half-stars and There needs to be a sequel to explain some things I still have questions about
So, I give Garden of Thorns ★★★★☆. Or in other, Stephanie-rating-land words...
So, are you intrigued? Does that cover pull you in? Or maybe the wicked Garden? I'm clamoring for a sequel so here's hoping!
*Source* Amazon *Genre* Young Adult / Fantasy / Romance *Rating* 3.5-4
Garden of Thorns is the first installment in author Amber Mitchell's Garden of Thorns trilogy. Rose is from Varsha. When the traitor took the Varshan Throne, she fled with her caretaker only to be captured and enslaved. Since then, Rose has been forced to serve in a burlesque troop made up of under aged slaves called the Garden. She is called Flower, and her job is to dance. Dance until your feet give out, never talk back, and don’t ever disobey an order, or your Wilted pays the price.
I enjoyed this one A LOT. I've been in a reading slump and was able to zoom through this one. It has plenty of "ah!" and "omg" moments. It's super entertaining!
My only complaint is the romance between Rose & Rayce. I felt it needed a little more development. The ending bothered me a bit too. I wanted a big finale and some more drama behind Rose's "secret". Aside from that, I cannot wait for the sequel! I recommend this one to all YA fantasy lovers!!
Let me preface this by stating that I am the author's husband, so none of my opinions shared within this review are biased in any way.
I have read this story many times over from its shaky first draft to the polished work it has evolved into. I've been present for the moments of writer's block, the creative stumbles, the late night brainstorming sessions, the near-constant rejection letters, several emotional break-downs, and shared in the pure elation the day Amber's offer came in.
That being said, I would highly recommend Garden of Thorns anyone who enjoys Young Adult, Fantasy, or Romance.
Rose's plight in the beginning is contrasted sharply by the growth she achieves by the story's end. She is resourceful, clever, fierce, and highly mistrusting of others. She is also strong, compassionate, and loyal to a fault. Her and Amber would make great friends.
Rayce is a welcome departure from the usual "bad boy with a soft-side" archetype and maintains himself as an all around good-guy. Plus he's apparently very attractive, he can cook, he cleans up after himself, and would probably do laundry without being asked... Now that I think about it, it's probably good that he's fictional.
Lastly, the political climate setup between Delmar, Zareen, and Varsha set the stage for a story much larger than Rose's escape from captivity. These events unfold at a good pace and never leave the reader bored; while at the same time not exhausting them with plot-point overload. Pepper in some truly original science-based magic and you have the makings of a great debut novel.
This is one of the most exciting fantasy books I have ever read! Right from the beginning the story threw me into some of the most disturbing and heinous abuse I’ve ever encountered in YA. It literally made my stomach churn. The Flowers and the Wilteds live in an absolutely unbearable, atrocious situation. To use The Wilteds in the manner they are used is diabolical and heartbreaking. I wanted so badly for them to escape, fight back, be rescued, anything to get them out of The Garden!
This novel involves a familiar trope in Rose's secret which I won't give away although it's easy to guess pretty early on. What truly makes this heroine special isn’t some undefined power or anything to do with her secret but rather it is the strength and aerial skills she developed due to the abuse she suffered for years at the hands of the Gardener. It allowed her to be able to ignore pain and taught her to be quick and agile. This certainly comes in handy when captured or fighting a battle! While the abuse made her distrustful and took away her self-confidence it didn’t make her weak. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger indeed!
I didn’t always like Rose’s decisions and I often had to remind myself that she wasn’t making her choices from a place of normality and confidence but rather from what she had learned from her past in the Garden which was full of fear, mistrust, pain, and misery. There was no chance of such a broken girl making good decisions! The romance bordered on insta-love but due to the constant danger and Rose’s background it is understandable that she would fall for the first kind and goodhearted (and good looking) man she spent any time with.
The action was pretty well constant with epic battles, chases and rescues leading one into the next with hardly enough time to take a breath in between. There are a few quiet, tender scenes but for the most part it is all action all the time. The plot is constantly pushed forward with nary a lull and there is no chance of boredom. Due to this the world building is minimal and mostly functional. There is some background history but only as it ties directly into the plot. It was enough information to be satisfying and certainly not overwhelming but I’m hoping future volumes in the series tell us a bit more about the world this story is set in. I'm also really hoping that the final version includes a map!
Thank you to Entangled Publishing for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
Damn, this book was well-written. I really enjoyed it. The language was just beautiful in the way it blended with the theme. I loved how the writer managed to find the perfect analogies involving garden-related stuff, and it felt really original and unique. If nothing else, this book deserves a high rating just because of that.
But don’t worry, it has more than beautiful language. It has plot and romance, too.
And a stunning cover!!!
Garden of Thorns is a YA Fantasy set in a unique world where the main lands are at war. Rose, the MC, was born in Varsha, but she was brought to Delmar when she was a young girl by the hand of her slaver, the Gardener. Ever since then, Rose’s been forced to perform as an aerial acrobat, also known as Flower. Under the Gardener’s tyranny, Rose suffers the kind of mental and even physical abuse that paints in bold colors a really ugly picture of what a life as a Flower must be like. From moment on, I felt for her.
But Rose isn’t just any Flower. The Gardener has a special interest in her because of a secret she’s keeping. A secret that’s practically a chain holding her back and keeping her from trying to escape. Until the day that secret costs her the most important thing in her life. That’s when Rose decides she’ll escape and find a way to bring down the Gardener.
Enter Rayce, Delmar’s former heir to the throne (the emperor’s nephew) and the leader of the Zareen (the rebellion). Rayce’s fighting to overthrow his horrible uncle, a man who won’t hesitate before killing and destroying in order to maintain his power. Unlike him, Rayce is all about the people—he wants a fair world where everyone can leave in peace. A bit naïve, I guess, but he’s a young man and his heart is in the right place.
Rose and Rayce’s path cross during her escape, and they’re forced together when, instead of letting her go, Rayce takes her back to his people. That’s when the real fun starts.
This is an action-packed story that has enough fighting, planning and characters trying to escape or make their way back home to keep you entertained and turning pages. If that’s your kind of fantasy, I imagine you won’t be disappointed.
But there’s also plenty of romance for those, like me, who like their fantasies romance-heavy. Rose and Rayce have that type of slow burn romance that had my chest tight the entire time. I devoured their scenes, always wanting for more. They have the perfect chemistry and high stakes to go with it.
Rose had a lot to lose by trusting him enough to acknowledge her growing feelings for the boy who took care of his people like they were all his family. She’d been betrayed her entire life by men, and, with the secret she was keeping, there was a good chance Rayce would be put in a position to betray her, too. Even if he wanted her as much as she wanted him.
Rayce was a young man plagued by past mistakes shouldering a lot more responsibility than anyone else in the book. There were so many people counting on him that he couldn’t allow himself the distraction of falling in love. Besides, in times of war, loving someone is dangerous because it turns that person into a weapon your enemies can use against yourself, especially if you’re the leader. So he also hesitate before giving in to his feelings.
We got to watch all of that “should-we-or-shouldn’t-we” play as the story progressed, and I loved every second of it. Bottom line, I ship Rayce and Rose. Hard.
But this book isn’t only about beautiful writing, great romance and action (although that’s more than enough to make it a great book, huh?). There was also space for character development and beautiful friendship/mentorship.
There are some great side characters in this story, but I think Oren deserves special attention. He was such an important figure in both Rayce and Rose’s personal journeys by being a positive influence and a paternal/mentor figure to both of them. I imagine he was as important to Rayce in a time prior to the start of the story as he was to Rose throughout this first book. He earned Rose’s trust and respect, and mine, too. I’m Team Oren forever.
Speaking of Rose’s journey, I was really proud of who she became in the end. Rose started out as someone who, at times, irritated me because of her inability to react. She let her secret—let’s be honest here, it wasn’t even that much of a secret—become a chain that held her back. A chain the Gardener didn’t hesitate to use on her. Every time she thought about that secret she froze. Every time she confronted the Gardener or any other powerful figure that could use her secret, she couldn’t think or react. It was frustrating and caused harm to those around her, which is something that always makes me look at the main character under a not-so-positive light. Having said that, I understand that this was the arc the author planned for Rose. She had to go from powerless, defenseless to someone who could fight for herself and those she cared for. It took her a while, but she got there. In the first book of the series!!! It’s more than I can say about some characters out there. So, go Rose!
Rayce’s journey was a little less dramatic, mostly because it had already started by the time the story started. When we met him, Rayce was already the leader of the rebellion, so we didn’t get to see how he got there. We got an explanation, though, and everything made perfect sense, as far as I’m concerned. I’m still betting the author will come up with a stronger arc for Rayce in a second book—although this didn’t end in a cliffhanger, it’s still clear there’s a lot more story there, so I’m betting on sequels. That though aside, I loved Rayce. He was a complex character battling the kind of guilt that would’ve incapacitated some people—like Rose noticed herself—but turned him into someone strong, someone with a purpose. I loved that about him. He reminded me a bit of another favorite character of mine, Stefan from The Vampire Diaries, in the way he channeled his guilt into this need to protect everyone around him and was willing to sacrifice everything for the ones he cared for. It’s such a great trait in a hero and so hard to do while looking genuine. For me, it worked here.
As you can see from this long review, Gardens of Thorns was a pleasant surprise. I expected to like this book because the blurb sounded intriguing enough, but I thought it was richer than I had anticipated. The writing, the characters and the messages make this a book definitely worth reading. I hope there’s a book two coming my way soon.
4.5 stars as I really enjoyed this! As soon as I read the summary of Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell I knew I had to read it. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy and Mitchell had my attention from page one of this book.
Rose is the main character and has spent the last seven years as a slave in the Garden, a burlesque dance troupe. When the Garden is set up to perform for the Emperor, Rose sees an opportunity to escape and she is willing to do whatever she needs to in order to make it happen. Unfortunately for Rose, she chooses the wrong person in the audience to use so she can get out and she ends up being the one held against her wishes.
I love a great character driven story and Mitchell did a fantastic job of getting me to care about these characters. Rose and her Wilted have been together the entire time they have been in the Garden. As a Flower, Rose is directly responsible for anything that happens to her Wilted and almost immediately something happens that forces her to make a decision about her future. One of the things I really liked was that Rose isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes and she keeps secrets. Her biggest secret is the one that ended up getting her captured by the Gardener and it is the one that she continues to try to hide from everyone around her. I couldn’t really blame her for the things she kept hidden…even though I wanted her to tell Rayce everything. She hasn’t had an easy life since she was captured and she has learned just how dangerous and evil some people can be, not just the Gardener and his right hand man, Shears but also those someone she thought was a friend.
Rayce is who Rose ends up trying to use as a hostage in her escape without really knowing that he is the guy who is wanted by the Emperor for leading a rebellion against the Empire. He also happens to be the former heir to the throne and I loved learning more about his background as the story progressed. It is clear he takes his leadership role very seriously and his reasons for going against his uncle have a personal aspect to them. There were so many scenes with Rayce that I loved and most of them revolve around the weight he carries on his shoulders as a leader. Of course, there are some swoony parts that I loved too – I just wish there had been more kissing (yeah, I said it). The relationship that forms between Rose and Rayce isn’t something that happens overnight and there was one quote from Rayce that I highlighted that I thought was a perfect reflection of them both.
“I’m sorry about what happened to you in the past, but I will prove you wrong now. I’m going to make you believe in me, not because I want you to, but because that’s what you need.”
Mitchell did a wonderful job with the secondary characters as well. From Arlo and Marin to the Emperor and the Gardener, all of them were pretty well-developed. The one character in the group that stood out for me was Oren. He was the man who helped Rayce become a leader and he was the one who helped Rose realize what she really needed to do to save the people she loves.
As the story moves forward, there is quite a bit of action and danger. Rayce and Rose make a deal to work together to take down the Emperor and save the rest of the girls, but it doesn’t go smoothly. Of course Rayce is wanted by the Emperor but now Rose’s picture is also on a wanted poster and she is sure that the Emperor knows exactly who she is. Not only does that mean she is in danger but anyone who is with her is too. Never mind that this really complicates any plans she has to save the rest of the girls from the Garden.
Overall I really enjoyed this book – I’m not going to say anything more about the story as I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone. Just know that the characters were well done and the story kept me turning the pages. It is hard to say whether this is a standalone (I hope not!!) or the first of a series. I am interested to see what happens next for these characters and while it ended in a great place, there is definitely more story here – at least from my point of view so I really hope there is another book coming. Regardless, I will be keeping an eye out for more from Mitchell. If you are looking for a new YA Fantasy to read, consider checking this one out when you can, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy!
I'm pretty sure the reason I wanted to read this book was because of the cover. I mean, LOOK AT IT!
I'll be honest with you here. I haven't read much of the mainstream YA Fantasy out there right now, so I can't tell you if "it's been done before". What I can tell you is this book drew me in and kept me there. The slavery conditions Rose experiences are incomprehensible and create an instant "bad guy". From the very beginning, there was always something happening, and I couldn't put this book down.
I have two minor complaints. I usually enjoy "insta-love" (especially the fated kind) but this was a little fast, even for me. After I got over the initial "insta-love" shock I was completely on board with the romance. I also felt like Rose got too involved in the group too quickly. She went from being imprisoned, then training the next day, and being involved in her first mission the next. She jumped in with both feet, and they seemed to welcome her.
Amber Mitchell said she wrote this as a standalone with room for a sequel. She is completely right. I finished this book and was satisfied with where it ended, BUT I would 100% read a sequel. In fact, I'm hoping there is a sequel. Rose experienced so much growth in this book that I can't wait to see how she handles what comes next.
I received an advance review copy of this book that I have chosen to review.
Garden of Thorns is an interesting story about a girl who was captured at the age of nine and has been performing aerial acrobatics for the Garden (a human slave version of the circus) for the last ten years. She’s considered a “Flower” since she’s the performer and every flower has a “Wilted” counterpart, a girl who is behind the scenes and is punished for every mistake or disobedience the flower makes. Basically the story is about Rose who is able to escape the Garden but instead of finding freedom, she finds herself captured and forced to help the rebellion to overthrow the Emperor. However, there’s a lot more going on besides that but I don’t want to give anything away.
I enjoyed the author’s creativity in this novel. I thought it was an amazing debut novel and I really look forward to what she comes out with next. I’m not sure if this is going to be a series or if the author is going to leave it as is but either way, I’ll be keeping an eye out for her next book. I would definitely recommend Garden of Thorns to anyone looking to read a young adult novel that has some fantasy elements to it.
“Garden of Thorns” begins with a bang, as Rose is trapped in a cage as part of the Garden. The Garden is ruled by the Gardener who trains enslaved young girls to be “Flowers” in his entertainment show. The Flowers are each paired with a Wilted who they sleep with and who helps prepare them for performances. Anytime a Flower makes a mistake, the Wilted takes their punishment. Rose is the star of the Garden and eager to escape and save the rest of the Flowers. At the beginning of the book, she learns that her Wilted, Fern, has been accused of doing something terrible and watches, trapped, as she is “Clipped” (beheaded). Rose vows to escape and save the other Flowers.
Soon after, Rose makes her escape and lands promptly in the clutches of the Rebellion, led by the handsome and kind-hearted Rayce. As Rose gets to know the rebellion better, she begins to open her mind and her heart to new possibilities. In the meantime, we explore the politics and history of this interesting fantasy world.
One major theme of the book is Rose’s distrust of all men due to the fact that she was betrayed by one at 9 years of age and handed over to the Gardener (and then suffered at his hands). I found this a little hard to believe (despite people keeping their promises, helping her, etc., she could not seem to trust), especially to the pervasiveness at which it escalated and also considering the time before she was captured with her fond memories of her father, etc. Maybe it was meant to be a coping mechanism for her to lay blame elsewhere (e.g. on all men, rather than specific ones?). I also found the instant liking between Rose and Rayce to be a little too fast/predictable. I would have liked a slower lead up and burn for their attraction.
That being said, the book captured my attention from the start and I loved the beginning of the book- the idea of the Garden was fascinating and quite creative. I was excited to see it lead into some bigger picture ideas with government/rebellion. I devoured this book pretty quickly as it was tough to put down. Although it was supposedly written as a standalone, the ending felt pretty open (e.g. we see the sand, not the beach), so there is that to consider. It’s not clear if this would have sequels, but if it does, I would be happily first in line to check them out!
Overall, I found it to be enthralling and enjoyable- a fascinating addition to the YA fantasy genre. There are some mature themes which should be considered in terms of readership (e.g. battles, death, murder). Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read and review this book. My views are entirely my own.
Amber Mitchell's world in Garden of Thorns is engaging, her story unique, and the characters vibrant. I was drawn in my the strong MC Rose, who - despite a life of servitude - is fierce and forced to "bloom" without the sun. Mitchell's writing is fast-paced and vivid, the book filled with action and poetic subtlety.
I recommend this book to any fan of YA fantasy, and I'm excited to see how Mitchell will expand this world in future volumes.
rating:3.5 Thanks to Entangled Teen for the ARC in exchange for an honest review! review to come!
*Update review added*
Rose is a flower in the garden-she's a dancer. And how the Garden works is that the girls are usually paired up-one Wilted and one Flower. The Flower is the one who dances and the Wilted is the one who is punished if the Flower makes a mistake, and Rose tries hard not to make a mistake so that her best friend and Wilted, Fern, doesn't suffer the consequences. But just like Rose, Fern has been keeping secrets and Rose realizes more than ever that she needs to escape the garden but her attempt goes wrong when she accidentally involves the ex-heir to the throne and gets herself taken as a hostage. If she wants to save her friends that are still in the garden, she'll have to prove to Rayce that she's not a spy but her secret might be more dangerous than if she'd been.
I loved the writing! The idea of the Garden was horrific and yet genius!!! I liked how the vocabulary the author used kind of mixed that garden imagery.
I liked Rose well enough, she was super determined and she had a big heart, She was a bit on the fence with everyone which is understandable. I did really enjoy her character development! She doesn't really trust men since someone betrayed her when she was a kid so she's kind of closed off from men and slowly she starts to open up to possibilities of friendship and romance.
I really liked the side characters! We had Arlos, the overprotective but lively brother, Marin, the kickass straightforward soldier and Oren the sweet parental figure.
I liked Rayce a lot! Charismatic? Definitely. But not to the point of making him a book boyfriend. But i loved the slow burn of the romance between Rose and Rayce! I think i liked Rayce a lot because he reminded me of Percy Jackson who's flaw is Loyalty no matter the consequences and Rayce is like that. He will always put the good of his people before his own wants.
So is it a standalone? I don't know! It has a satisfactory ending, no cliffhanger in a way but there is much more room for a sequel because we could go in the direction of Rose's secret much more! Overall i'm satisfied with the ending but i would totally buy a sequel!
The reason i can't give this book 5 stars is because i saw the plot twist-Rose's secret-coming from the very beginning. While i liked the characters, i didn't LOVE any of them so i was a little disconnected with them and i found myself skipping a few paragraphs at times. It was definitely a good read but the predictability really brought it down for me unfortunately!
So overall it wasn't a "meh" read, it was much better and i'd love to read a sequel! I liked the story and plot well enough so it's an easy relaxing read for a sunday afternoon!
In Garden of Thorns, teen burlesque dancer Rose decides to escape the company that is holding her prisoner by taking a hostage at the next show. But it turns out he's the exiled heir and leader of the rebellion, and he takes her hostage in the mistaken belief that she is an assassin, and spirits her away to their secret underground hideaway. But now Rose wants their help to free her captive sisters!
Among all of the cookie cutter YA fantasies currently glutting the market, Garden of Thorns stands apart with this theme of gardening running throughout the narrative. The burlesque company Rose was part of was called the Garden, run by horrible man known only as the Gardener. Rose was a Flower, one of the prized performers, who are paired with Wilteds, girls who take harsh physical punishments for every step out of place the Flowers take. Rose thought in gardening terms: pruning, cutting, growing. That was interesting and unique. The other thing that makes this differ is that Rose has a secret, but it's not saved until the end to reveal it. It's pieced together and revealed casually throughout the beginning of the novel. 'Guessing' the secret isn't that big of a claim because it's never treated as a big mystery, which another author probably would have done.
Rose was a likeable character who showed growth throughout the novel. Already entering as a veteran of performing in silks, she had overcome a fear of heights and now learned how to handle weapons. She didn't immediately become a pro but did show advancement after her training.
One of the issues I had with the novel was a sense of disconnection. There is nothing wrong with its writing or narrative, I just felt disconnected from the characters and could not care that deeply about their welfare. One character is killed early on, which I think is supposed to make us realise that anyone can die, but when I reached the end of the novel , I felt unsatisfied, like I was being lead into reading the rest of the series. I understand that leaving threads open extends the story when there is more to tell, but I felt unsatisfied and disinterested in continuing this series. The book had a really great opening, but by about 30% I had lost significant interest, even though the love interest seemed like a genuinely nice guy and Rose was clearly dealing with some intense mental health issues.
Overall Garden of Thorns delivered a predictably strong story, a brave heroine with an interesting love interest, horrible and creepy villains, and developed side characters, but I found it hard to care about any of them. I haven't yet decided f I want to read its sequels, but I think it's telling enough that I don't immediate want them in my needy little hands.
I received a copy of this novel for review from Netgalley. It in no way has influenced this review.
Note: I received an ARC of this via Netgalley. This in no way influences my opinion.
I had a lot of fun reading this book. I absolutely love the cover and, when I read the blurb, I knew I had to request it from Netgalley! I am so glad that I got accepted because I really enjoyed this!
Immediately we are thrown into this crazy world that Rose lives in. She is a prisoner of the Garden and she is forced to perform. From the very first page, we can see the kind of conditions she is forced to live in and it makes the reader just want to save her and wrap her up in bubble wrap so that she never has to go through it ever again. Her captivity definitely has an impact on her mentally that she struggles with throughout the entire book and it was interesting and satisfying to watch her grow as a person and watch her learn that not everyone is like the people in the Garden. She is extremely headstrong where it matters and I really like her.
The villains in the garden are people that readers just love to hate. They are really just terrible and easy to hate. There isn't a redeemable factor about either the Gardener or Shears and I would really love to know what their back story is and how they ended up the way that the did. I would also love to know what happened to the guy who sold Rose out into captivity - what's his story and where did he end up?
I really liked the people in the rebellion. I was actually pretty skeptical at first because they seemed a bit too good to be true? I was expecting some form of crazy plot twist where they were actually evil too... but it never came! I could see myself being friends with all of the people in the rebellion and I would have loved to get to know some of them more!
The only real issue I had with this book is the fact that it took Rose a little too long to start trusting people, even after they proved themselves time and time again. It became a little exhausting after a while and I just wanted to clip her around the ear so...
Can we just mention the ending? Obviously I don't want to get into it too much, but it was so bittersweet! I was not expecting what happened and I was pretty upset when it did happen!
All in all, I really enjoyed myself reading this book and I am assuming there will be a sequel based on the ending? I am hoping so anyway! I gave this book 4/5 stars.
**This book is pretty violent, there are a lot of fight scenes and violence towards the girls who are locked up**
I actually loved this. WOW. Okay, so this is a YA romantic fantasy, definitely romance heavy although it is very slow burn and lovely and I adored it. We follow our main character Rose, who was kidnapped as a young girl and forced into the 'Garden.' The garden is a stage show, where kidnapped girls are made to dance and put on a show and yes its really horrible to read. Rose escapes within the first 20% of the book and that is where everything really takes off. She ends up underground with a group of rebels set on taking down the emperor. What I loved about this book was the rag tag group of rebels who, over time prove themselves to Rose and eventually become people she trusts and loves. It such a great group of people, it made the reading experience really fun. Rose herself is a wonderful protagonist to me, she is so strong and brave and doesn't take peoples shit. Rayce is our rebel leader and swoony love interest. Rose is obviously very hesitant to trust anyone new but her and Rayce develop a slow burn relationship that just gave me life. Take this book for what it is... its not an epic high fantasy with tons of world building. It is a YA ROMANTIC fantasy, that does a pretty good job of creating a believable fantasy world and makes you care for the characters. I seriously adored my time with this book and I'm SO excited to read the next book in the series! One thing I want to mention LOTS of people got stabbed in the abdomen in this lmao, and they basically were fine. Man IDK about you but I'm pretty sure a sword to the gut wouldn't be something you could bounce back from that quick.
First, some disclaimers: 1. I'm East Asian, specifically Chinese 2. I'm very picky when it comes to romance
Ok, now we can proceed.
What drew me to the book: Look, I'm not gonna lie, I was intrigued by the concept of the Garden but I didn't pick up the book until I saw someone tag it as East Asian lit. (See disclaimer 1.) And then I got really excited about reading the book, because there's not tonnes of East Asian lit lying around (or East Asian inspired).
Did I Finish?: Yes, I did. I did have to put down the book a few times and groan a bit though (for reasons you'll see later). Though overall I did think it was a fun read and I DID finish it so there's that!
What I liked: The concept of the Garden! Give me more! I didn't feel the closeness of the girls very much and I felt like it was a bit more telling and not showing in that regard. But I absolutely loved the idea of the Flowers and the Wilted (and consequently lots of flower related imagery throughout the book) — not that I endorse that happening in real life, I just found it very interesting.
The world was pretty interesting as a whole! Especially the Zareenite. I felt like the world was very colourful and vibrant to me, which is great. Love good world-building.
Also I kept seeing Rayce in my head as Shang. No shame.
What I did not like: See disclaimer 2: For most people I feel like this would be a super sweet romance. Lots of will they won't they kiss. Which is totally cool, but really not for me, especially when they'd be talking about something serious and suddenly Rose is focused on Rayce's biceps or something. Sisters before Misters? (Re: me having a problem with not enough of the Garden and the bond of the girls)
Rayce's name: This is super minor but I really could not take the name "Rayce" seriously alongside the others. Oren, Arlo, Marin sounded like they belonged in the same universe but Rayce for some reason kept disrupting my reading process. I kept putting the book down just to laugh. It's probably just me though.
Spoilery things I did not like:
Overall it was a fun book to read despite the really glaring cliche (not that there are problems with cliches but I guessed it about two pages in). I'm genuinely considering picking up the sequel if/when it comes out.