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Heart of Thorns #1

Heart of Thorns

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Inventive and heart-racing, this fierce feminist teen fantasy explores a dark kingdom in which only women can possess magic—and every woman is suspected of having it.

In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia's father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Now, as she untangles the secrets of her past, Mia must learn to trust her heart…even if it kills her.

Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor won’t want to miss this gorgeously written, bold novel, the first in the Heart of Thorns trilogy.

480 pages, ebook

First published July 31, 2018

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About the author

Bree Barton

4 books498 followers
Bree Barton lives in mythical Ithaca with her partner and two waggish dogs. She wrote her first book as “a humble child of ten”—her exact words in the query letter she sent to editors. Those editors told her to keep writing, and luckily, she did. Bree was eleven when her journey with the Shadoom began, and stories offered a special kind of balm. A handful of years later, she is the author of several young adult novels published in seven countries and four languages. Bree teaches dance and writing and loves connecting with readers of all ages. Zia Erases the World is her middle grade debut.

I N S T A G R A M: instagram.com/speakbreely
Y O U T U B E: youtube.com/breebarton

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 922 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
July 25, 2018
There have been many times when I've disagreed with Kirkus reviews, but whoever wrote the review for this book and said:
"This winsome debut novel goes down like a vegan, gluten-free cupcake: sweet and good for you but entirely lacking in satisfying decadence."

nailed it.

Heart of Thorns needed more editing and fewer tropes. It needed more memorable characters and fewer info-dumps. And it really just needed to be a bit less... polite. There's absolutely zero juicy goodness in this book, and aside from the briefly-mentioned bisexuality of the love interest, it just doesn't do anything special or new.

It's interesting how we've rebranded the same old tropes. Some years back, when feminism was still a dirty word, this exact same story would never have been sold as "a fiercely feminist fantasy" but as a fantasy with a "kickass heroine". Back then, I got private messages from women saying how "brave" I was for calling myself a feminist on my profile (yes, really). Now "Feminist" is a t-shirt slogan, feminism is itself edgy and cool, so we can use it as a marketing tool. But, *whisper yells* it's still the same old story!

There is nothing uniquely feminist about this. Heart of Thorns consists of a vaguely-sketched world in which women are treated like shit until a badass female heroine rises up to challenge the system. This is not new. This is almost every YA fantasy novel of the last ten years. And, honestly, the attempts to be "feminist" and include LGBT relationships were not done well, in my opinion. It read really awkwardly and saw characters tagging on afterthoughts to appear so woke:
"You're beautiful when you lie." He quickly added, "Not to diminish you or suggest that beauty is an indicator of your worth."
“I don’t know. I’ve never had a husband. Or a wife,” she added.

Why even choose to write in inclusivity like an "oops"? Why not just say "I've never had a husband or a wife" or even just "I've never had a husband" because we already know the MC is straight. And I applaud anyone who can read that first quote without rolling their eyes.

So, the plot. Basically, Mia is being forced into an arranged marriage with Prince Quin when an assassination attempt forces them both to go on the run together. Up until this point, Mia has wanted nothing more than to seek revenge against her mother's killer - one of the Gwyrach: terrifying magical women - but it is on her wedding night that she discovers she is one of them. Armed with her mother's journal, Mia must find out the truth about the Gwyrach, her mother, and herself.

There's a lot of over-descriptive writing and info-dumps that would have benefited from further editing. The world-building we are given is introduced through conversations in which the characters awkwardly recite the history of their land and politics for no good reason. And the pacing is weird and uneven. At one point, I thought several days had passed and then Mia was thinking about the events of the night before and I realised it had been less than 24 hours.

Oh, and the tropes/things we see in pretty much every YA fantasy:

➽ Female assassin/hunter being forced into unwanted marriage with a prince.
➽ MC discovers own secret powers.
➽ Dead parent.
➽ Motivated by sibling love.
➽ Bland love interest.
➽ Mindlessly evil king.
➽ Gratuitous attempted rape scene.

I know every genre has tropes and I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing, but I do expect books to do a bit of something new, or what's the point? There was nothing here that made me sit up, take interest and think "what will happen next?". Nothing got my blood pumping. I do also wonder if a first-person narrative would have made it more engaging.

I got to the end and felt no urge to seek out the sequel. The dramatic conclusion was not as tense as it was clearly meant to be because - and perhaps I am wrong - the very fact that there is a sequel seems to suggest a certain inevitability that drains some tension from the final moments. I doubt I'll be finding out either way.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,148 reviews97.7k followers
June 23, 2018

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder.”

Hello, friends! This is going to be a hard one to review. I honestly feel like this is a solid 2.5 star read, but some aspects make me want to raise that rating and others make me want to lower it. I will say the end of this book is phenomenal. Like, easily the best part. And it was so good that I want to continue on. But the rest, especially the earlier sections, were some of the most predictable reading I’ve ever read.

Again, I’m super torn on this one. This book does tackle a lot of important themes, and I would say that the heart of this novel is honestly feminism. This book shines a spotlight on inequality between men and women, and how women in this world basically developed magic because it was the only way to somewhat counterbalance it.

“…men have found ever-new ways of oppressing women. Our bodies have been receptacles, both container and contained; our wombs soft and pliant for the children we were meant to bear our husbands, whether we wanted to or not. We have been restricted, silenced, and confined. This has been called many things��‘protection,’ ‘progress,’ even ‘love.’”

This book stars a young girl named Mia, who is getting ready to celebrate a marriage that her father has chosen for her. Mia is contemplating running away, so she won’t be forced to marry a prince that she barely knows. But Mia has a sick sister who she has to take into account, because she can’t bear to leave her. But her sister wants nothing more than to stay, safely tucked away in the castle, while hoping for her chance at love.

Mia’s father is a renowned hunter of Gwyrach, which are woman who are believed to be witches, who are said to be able to stop a man’s heart just by laying their hands on their skin. They are also said to have powers to enthrall those around them and make them do their bidding. So, in this world, all women are forced to wear gloves, and it is considered unthinkable to be seen without them.

But this story is truly about Mia’s mother, who was killed when Mia was very young, and found dead with not a mark upon her skin. Heart of Thorns truly centers on Mia trying to figure out who killed her mother, and why they chose to do so. And Mia is able to finally leave the castle and hope to search for clues once her wedding day ends with a murder attempt.

Together, Mia, and the promised prince that she knew barely anything about, go on an adventure where they find out a lot not only about Mia’s mother, but about the entire corrupt world they live in. And Mia finds out who she really is, and what she can really become, only if she chooses to embrace and love what she is, instead of hating it because of what she’s grown up learning.

Trigger and content warnings for talk of illness, graphic depictions of dead bodies and parts from those dead bodies, physical abuse, assault, sexual assault (unwanted touching), war themes, torture, violence in general, cruel death of an animal, a lot of blood visuals, murder, and too many rape attempts and talk of past rape attempts.

“We were hunted and killed for thousands of years, long before we had magic. We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman’s body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt.”

So, the promised prince’s name is Quin, and he honestly was my favorite character in the entire book. Not only is he bisexual, he is just kind, and caring, and thoughtful, and empathic. He also really loves dogs, and this is another very important quality that I personally look for in people. And speaking about more sexual representation, Mia’s mom was for sure not straight and was in a relationship with another woman. There is also a big side character that is gay. There is also a little bit of disability representation in this book, from another character that I really liked. Again, this book does have a lot of good, it just also has a lot of predictability.

Sometimes while reading, I felt like this was maybe a middle grade book. Because the writing is well done, but the clues are so glaringly obvious it makes for a poor reading experience. Hence why the end was so amazing, because it actually has twist after twist that I didn’t see coming. But I’ll be honest, the first 75% of this book is somewhat boring to read. At least, it was for me.

“Magic is born in the margins. It is nurtured among the vulnerable and broken. It is our bodies crying out for justice, seeking to right centuries of wrongs.”

Again, I still think this is a really good start to something that could be amazing. Between the feministic themes, to the bonds of sisterhood, to the lengths we are willing to go for the ones we love, I want more from this world, these characters, and this author. Also, this is Bree Barton’s debut novel, so I’m going to cut her a little slack for the predictability. And I honestly am excited to continue on with this series.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Jules at JA Ironside! ❤
10 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2018
"Your clavicle throws the most beautiful shadows"

"If she had understood the way blood flowed through the vena arteriosa to the heart's left chamber, or known how to invoke the subtle rhythm of the cariac systole- she might have saved her mother's life."

"She dug her fingertips into the bridge of her nose. 'The sphenoid bone. It's like my whole cerebrum is on fire.'"


As a medical student, I can assure you that no one speaks like this. Such phrases generally never come out of one's mouth oral cavity.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,423 reviews8,957 followers
October 10, 2021

Mia Rose lives in the River Kingdom, where her Father is the Captain of a guard that hunts Gwyrach, evil women who possess magic.

The Kingdom is hoping to banish all magic from within its borders and Mia Rose, a science lover, wants nothing more than to assist with that pursuit. A Gwyrach killed her Mother after all; she wants revenge.

Unfortunately, that's not really a common profession for women in her kingdom. In fact, there is only one woman currently serving in the guard and she's certainly viewed as an anomaly.

Additionally, Mia's Father has different plans for her. Needing an alliance with the royal family, he pledges his daughter's hand to the Prince.

Although the last thing Mia wants is to marry Prince Quin, she is willing to make the sacrifice in order to save her younger sister. She knows her Dad is going to get the alliance he wants one way or another; either with her hand or Angelyne's.

Going forward with the wedding, Mia has secretly plotted an escape, not only for herself, but also for her sister.

As the ceremony gets underway, a shocking turn of events ultimately exposes the fact that Mia possesses the very powers she has vowed to destroy.

How is that possible? The powers of the Gwyrach are passed on from mothers to daughters. What does this mean about Mia's Mother?

Mia is forced to team up with Prince Quin in her search for answers and as with many Princes and unwillingly brides before them, sparks begin to fly.

Heart of Thorns is a nice, solid story. I've had it on my shelves for a while and I'm glad I finally got around to picking it up.

In my opinion, it falls on the younger-side of YA; more of Tween category, or for Readers just delving into YA Fantasy, but that's absolutely fine. Those Readers deserve good stories too!

The narrative contains a lot of the typical YA Fantasy tropes, but it also had a strong feminist undertone that was well done and I appreciated that aspect.

I enjoyed the characters, Quin, most of all, and never felt bored or lost. It read quickly and although, at times, it was predictable, there was one giant reveal at the end that left my jaw on the floor!

This had an exciting conclusion and I am looking forward to continuing on with the series.

Marking this one in the books as another successful BACKLIST BUMP!!!

Profile Image for alana ♡.
636 reviews1,229 followers
June 13, 2018
Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an arc of this!

2.5 stars

tw: attempted sexual assault, mentions of self-harm

This was a bummer for me, you guys. I was really looking forward to this one and it just really fell short for me. The premise of this book was SO good, and when I read the synopsis I was instantly sold. But unfortunately, this one just didn't do it for me.

So where did it fall short, you ask?

For starters this was SUPER trope-y, and don't get me wrong I love a good trope (I mean I've only screamed about tropes in, like, my last ten reviews) but there were so many tropes and so little development. They were just thrown at you with a bunch of extra info and then on to the next. It was like an Oprah show during Christmas. "You get a trope, you get a trope, you get a trope, don't think we forgot about you in the back - here's another trope for you". I think fewer tropes and more development within those tropes would have been a little better for this story.

Second, the MC was forgettable and sometimes rather annoying. Honestly, if her name wasn't Mia I probably would have forgotten it by now. The rest of the characters were basically just as forgettable, except for Mia's mother and sister. I do have to say I really did love reading about Mia's mother and what happened to her leading up to her murder, it was probably the only highlight of the story for me.

Third, the pacing or whatever that was? I mean this was really my biggest problem and struggle with the book. Parts of this book were so descriptive that it just felt off. Once Mia learns she is a Gwyrach and is being taught about her magic she goes through "training" as would any other YA girl learning about her unknown magic. Except that training is, like, a pretty decent amount of this book and it's literally the span of one day. One day of training. I was so thrown off by this because I thought this was something that was happening over the course of days, not less than 24 hours. It was really weird because you just spend so much time reading about the training and then realize it was literally one day out out the characters life.

I do have to say, despite the things I didn't care for some of the plot twists were actually unexpected for me. And I do love me a good unexpected plot twist because I am the queen of overthinking and usually figure these things out early on. You can also expect a strong focus on feminism/sisterhood once you power through about 45% of this book.  And I generally did enjoy the fact that this book really focuses on perspective a lot. Where Mia is from Gwyrach are considered demons, but what about other kingdoms? Also, this book does have bisexual rep in it, however, it is pretty minimal at this point.  I think from the ending of this book we might see more of that rep in the next book, or at least I hope.

All in all, there were more letdowns then lovable parts of this book for me. I'm not sure how I feel about picking up the sequel at this point. I am generally curious as to how the multiple cliffhangers of this book will be wrapped up, but who knows how I'll feel after waiting a year for the sequel to come out.

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Profile Image for Carrie.
3,035 reviews1,499 followers
July 28, 2018
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton is the first book in the young adult fantasy series by the same name, Heart of Thorns. This one is a darker fantasy that would be best for an older crowd as there is a lot of violence and even rape involved in the story.

The series is set in a world in which some women possess magical abilities but having these abilities causes fear in those that don’t. With only a touch those known as the Gwyrach can manipulate a victims body and steal their life and to protect from this magic all women are forced to wear gloves at all times.

Mia Rose lost her mother to a Gwyrach and in the years since she has done nothing but train to be the one who destroys them. Now however Mia’s father has gone into an arrangement with the King offering Mia’s hand in marriage to the Prince.

Mia is completely against the marriage and had planned an escape but couldn’t leave her sister behind. However, just as the marriage is about to take place a threat on the groom’s life sends Mia into hiding with him as she finds herself developing the same powers that she’s vowed to defend against.

This opening of the Heart of Thorns series seemed to be a bit up and down for me while reading. I actually enjoyed the world the author was creating in this one and felt it had a faster pace to it as it along which I enjoy. Mia took a little warming up to in the story though and she kept going back to something that would have me shaking my head. Quin was a great character though along with some others. There was one particular scene however that I just really didn’t like at all but it’s too far to go into specifics but when I added it all together in the end I’d rate this opener at 3.5 stars and would continue reading the next book of the series.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via Edelweiss.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

September 25, 2018

I’m so sorry, but I just can’t get into this book.

The first sentence was so catching, first it was okay, but then it got freakin bad and I hated it.
The last thing I know they were on an air balloon - and I thought this was a book in a medieval world - and I was like: what?

I just couldn’t get into the whole magic system - I couldn’t really understand it.
It was so plain and basic.

I read a few reviews so I would know if I should continue and many people said the last 30 % were the best. But I don’t want to wait till the last 30 % so I would get a good book.

I’m sorry, I really am. I wanted to love this so bad.
But, no.
I didn’t like it.
And I dnf’d it.
Profile Image for Lenna • Sugar Dusted Pages .
238 reviews40 followers
April 15, 2018
2.5 RTC
It was going to be a solid 3 until this lovely line:
"You're beautiful when you lie." He quickly added, "Not to diminish you or suggest that beauty is an indicator of your worth."

FOR. PETE'S. SAKE. Just tell the story and stop trying to shove your microwaved feminism down my throat.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
612 reviews625 followers
October 13, 2019
Video Review

3.5 stars. Heart of Thorns was exactly the kind of Fantasy book that I love. And while I found especially the first half of it very slow, there's nothing about it that I actively disliked.

This book has incredible world building and for me it's the thing that stands out the most. The writing is sometimes a little bit much but when it comes to describing the world it works perfectly. I thought it was so easy to imagine the setting and I had really vivid pictures in mind. But even more so, the magic system was fantastic. While the magic itself was nothing new, the idea and concept behind it stands out. And this first book was really only the tip of the iceberg. I can't wait to see so much more of this magic in use but I'm already to intrigued by the history of it.

“We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman's body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt.”

The cast of characters was fantastic. Sadly I found the main character Mia a little bit bland in comparison to all of the amazing side and minor characters. While Mia has a really interesting character development and I didn't dislike her at all, everybody else just stood out to me much more. There's so many intriguing background stories for a lot of these characters and I wanna know so much more about them.
Especially Quin, the prince, has a firm place in my heart already. He is a perfect cinnamon roll that we should protect at all costs! Ange, Mia's sister, was another super intriguing character that I'm excited to meet again in the sequel. There is huge potential in this character.
Quin is attracted to both boys and girls and throughout the novel we also find out that Mia's mother was in a relationship with a woman before. There is another gay side-character and also a disabled side-character.

I think this book's biggest flaw is the extremely slow first half and overall length of this book. Nothing about this was exactly bad but I can't bring myself to give this more than 3.5 stars because the first half was a pain to get through and I think that some of it could've been cut.
I had also expected a little bit more from the romance. I liked it overall but "Pride & Prejudice meets Graceling" gives you some very specific expectations this just couldn't meet. I could see the P&P elements in the beginning of the story but it's easy to tell immediately what kind of character Quin truly is. I was expecting hate-to-love and wanted much more angst, although I do definitely see an Elizabeth character in Mia.

“Logic is insufficient. Love will always expose its flaws. It is good to have a mind, but it is better to have a heart.”

Overall this was a really great story about all kinds of love with some interesting feminist themes. While this novel certainly lacks a lot of things, it is an overall enjoyable novel, that shows much potential for future installments.

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I received an ARC of this through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alice.
287 reviews112 followers
August 13, 2018
2.25 stars

I got this copy from Fairyloot and I honestly considered pawning it.

Imagine hate-reading 80-90% of this book only to find out the last 10-20% was actually almost good if not for the contrived shift in quality. It’s like I complained all this time only to have my concerns addressed almost point-by-point at the very very tippy tip end of this book. I don’t know whether to be more annoyed that I think I was played or that Barton purposely made the first 80% of this book stupid only to make the ending seem amazing in comparison.

Admittedly, the ending was pretty damn good. What doesn't feel good is that this book made me wait 90% for something interesting to happen. There's a lot of speculation and planting of information that clearly doesn't add up about the Gwyrach/Dujia but rarely do we ever see them in action until very much later aside from Mia's arrow-extraction. I feel in order to give you an authentic review for this book, I have to split this review up into two parts: You'll notice there's almost an artificial change in quality based on the way I talk about it.

Thoughts on the first 90% of this book:
Mia and Science
This is complete drivel. This is an excellent portrayal of "Hollywood Smart," basically what people *think* smart people act like in movies. I've never encountered a more obnoxious portrayal of "book smarts" in YA and I hope it just fucking dies here.

I'm infuriated by the fact that this book expects us, the audience, to think Mia is anything close to the intellectual, scientist, or whatever pretentious title she wants to have. I'm infuriated of the idea that someone who doesn't know any better reading this book without a basic science background will think this bitch is the next Hermione Granger or Belle.

The straw that broke the camel's back:

"You speak as if it's arrogant to seek knowledge. I think it's the opposite. It takes great humility to admit you know nothing, and you want to learn."

Out of context, this is a nice aphorism. I would actually agree outside the context of this book. BUT. This is horrible because this is also what pseudo-intellectual dumbasses say when someone calls them out on their bullshit because they never take responsibitlity for their actions due to a lack of knowledge (i.e. their stupiditiy). This is just a line for Mia to excuse her arrogance and actual lack of knowledge when confronted by someone who has the answers she wants. This is so manipulative and frames itself as a goody-two-shoes innocent seeker of knowledge being victimized by someone who won't give them the answer key. Mia doesn't do the fucking work for it she doesn't deserve to have the answers handed to her like someone who feigns helplessness because they're USELESS. I've had shitty lab partners say almost the exact same thing when I called them out for being incompetent. How it's "not wrong to want to learn." Nice sentiment, but that's not what's actually happening. It's an ass-cover for your lack of success. These people would bulldoze anyone who had a genuine desire to understand. People who have humility don't exactly go around bragging about how humble they are when they're covering up the fact they know jack squat.

This is just like the random inserts of "science" the author includes that bear no importance to the story other than to tell us how SMORT Mia is because she reads and can conveniently explain anything that needs to be explained. You know, forget about field specialization. Even by the rare chance, the writing actually gets the science right, You Should Definitely Not Use This Book To Help You Pass Your Science Classes. Don't do it. Just don't. This book treats science like it is fact, as if it is the irrefutable truth, when in actuality it is a process of collecting evidence that may or may not support your predictions. The only thing this book has proven is that the author didn't pass high school biology and neither did anyone on the team that churned this out.

I'm fuming. I'm fuming.

Oh my god. P. 271

Sight isn't an illusion. It's science. It's the mind interpretting messages from the eyes.

Look technically the statement isn't wrong, it's just that biological process of encoding a light signal from your retina to produce the visual perception you see as the end product is not science... The process of figuring out how the heck this works is science. YOU CAN'T JUST CALL FACTS SCIENCE. JESUS CHRIST. But nevermind. Words don't have meaning anymore.

Overall it's like the author didn't even pass HS biology and couldn't even properly google the correct use of anatomical/biological terms.

The writing is attempting to be pretentious but lacks the capacity to actually be pretentious because:
- A lot of facts about science and biology are just wrong. Ah the subtlety of cardiac systole lol is what's keeping your heart going. I'm pretty sure they also confused the pulmonary vein and artery with each other. There are VARIOUS errors in the science of this book. There are just too many to list and I can't fact check these with the accuracy of a medical professional.

- Portrays science and math as having all the answers when really if we knew everything, why would we need science to further our understanding of the world???!?!?!?! (Note: this attitude from Mia is actually addressed at the very end when she miraculously learns the error of her ways)

- The use of anatomical terms is stilted in dialogue... no one talks like this unless they're trying to prove how SMORT they are but really aren't. It's overexaggerated... How do you know specifically your medulla is the part tearing out of your head?

- Mia reduces language to just grammar rules. While you can learn a lot of sentence structures and replace words to create new sentences, explain idioms as "just grammar rules," then.

- Mia claims "magic" is not a verb, so now she's trying to invalidate Merriam and Webster because it is indeed a verb.

- They replace the hard C's with Q's in the words necrosis and volcano --> neqrosis and volqano. To sound intellectual I guess. That gave me a good laugh. I'm an microbiology and immunology major, so you best be knowing I laughed a long time when the book described "microscopic animacules" = bacteria. One point they were even described as screaming from pain... bruh, they're single celled.

- At one point, we're told:

"But whereas humans had two pulmonary veins, wrens had four, a more efficient circulatory system that allowed them to fly"

...that human hearts have 2 pulmonary veins... we have 4. Two for each lung. Two lungs = 4 pulmonary veins. It also says that because avian lungs have 4 pulmonary veins, rather than 2??? like us plebian humans, they are able to fly. First of all, the reason why birds are said to have higher respiratory efficiency for flight is because of air capillaries, not because they have more pulmonary veins than humans (which is not true if we both have 4??). Also that's not how you write an appositive because "4 pulmonary veins" does not form a more efficient circulatory system... it's not equivilant. At all.

Mia and her mom
Aside from Mia being annoying like a teen who just found out what logic was (I guess this is realistic on Barton's part), we have the mystery of Mia's mom, Wynna, and the circumstances around her death. In a flashback, Mia's mother tells Mia about her medical training in Fojo Karcao and the difference in freedoms people have their compared to Glas Ddir - like how men could love men and women could love women. And also there was sex magic and magic is good, unlike how Glas Ddir wants people to fear magic and the Gwyrach (magical women). Alright cool. However, Mia makes a logical jump from "wow queer ppl are free to be queer in Fojo" to "did my mom have a secret female ex-lover who knows magic and tried to kill her" AND SHE ENDS UP BEING RIGHT. HOW THE FUCK? Who put down what Mia picked up?

Somehow Mia ends up being right all along about her mother (the ex lover out for blood, their parents actually loving each other) in a roundabout way that doesn't make sense. How did she gather that her mom had an ex lover out for blood because she jumped to the conclusion her mom was bisexual just from her mom saying that gay people exist and magic is cool for sex?

Additionally, it's noted that Mia had always thought her parents were in love. Wynna's journal entries say that she was in a loveless marriage for penance for what she did to her ex-lover but then she eventually fell in love with Mia's father anyway because he just loved their daughters so much. Her parents’ story doesnt make a lick of sense. It’s like her mom was forced to be with her dad, but if she truly hated it, she has the power to literally melt his bones. Why put up with this? Find penance somewhere else. And then the mom falls i love with her dad because he’s just such a good dad but the mom feels guilt for enthralling him into loving her. The consent issues are addressed later on, so like she says it doesnt make it right that she forced him to love her so fine. All of this is presented in a post-humous epistolary format so it feels weak and contrived because this is all recounted in Wynna's diary.

Mia is presented as right about her mom's love life anyway, which is fine and dandy because only she would be privy to all these observations. The problem is this doesn't let the reader figure out anything before Mia, and given that this girl can't study biology quite correctly, I had a hard time trusting Mia's observations and some of them felt like they came out of nowhere. I thought all her wild theories were supposed to be off-based, but they were mysteriously on-point.

Many times in the flashbacks Wynna tells her the Life Lesson of the book in the form of vaguely cryptic aphorisms. Because Mia takes everything as black or white, which her mother should be aware of, she’s bound to not understand until she’s older and people explain the fucking aphorism to her in one day’s worth of training. I wish YA parents would have honest talks with their kids and treat them like they can handle nuance. Most of the plot is framed around Wynna’s secrets, which could be interesting, if not for the fact many half reveals are conveniently in Wynna’s diary. We do get Angie's side of this story that helps piece this all together at the very end, but it left a bad taste in my mouth that the truth was stalled out until the very last possible moment.

Mia and Magic and Emotions
Mia is annoying and "logical" (really uses her line of thinking to bulldoze everyone, it's not the same really). Admittedly, Mia is still quite obnoxious throughout. And its not like I was never an obnoxious Intellectual teen myself. As someone who’s been through a similar arc of not being a dick to people I found intellectually inferior, it was frustrating to see this happen in a character that didn’t really have anything to prove Personally. By personally, I mean her arc revolves around finding out the truth about her mother and being displaced from her lot in life (huntress), though the latter isn't explored as much as the former, which is more about her family and how she treats them than herself.

For younger readers, it might be an eye-opener because they might identify with this intellectual snobbery and talking down to people more because they think Mia is in the right because she’s That One Teen Who’ll Save the World and sees the woes of her kingdom (but she gets upset when other people also know what she knows???) and that there should be a balance of listening to your emotions and logic. As someone who has already gone through all this IRL, well, this is kid’s gloves. I don’t feel the devastation from Mia in the writing when her life is turned upside down and sideways. Her being obnoxious and stringently “logical” is a defense mechanism when she encounters things she cannot grasp. Objectively, I can see what is being attempted. However, it comes off as more obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious than anything else until the text has to outright TELL you that it was a defense mechanism. This awkward self-awareness that suddenly activates in the 2nd half of the book just doesn’t feel earned because there seemed to be a glaring lack of it just to keep a feeling of under-baked intrigue. It certainly doesn’t help that a bunch of science “facts” (wrong facts, bad science) are dispersed throughout the book, adding onto the aggravation.

Thoughs on the last 10-20% and the ending
Is the writing actually self-aware?
Beats me. At the beginning of this book, Mia judges her sister, Angelyne, for wanting to be "like other girls" i.e. getting married and having a family and wanting to be a princess and reading romance novels owo and uses her intellect to create her own pedestal to elevate herself above people she deems "unwoke." This is actually pretty unwoke, because it shifts blame onto the women who lived in this oppressive Glas Ddiran culture instead of targeting those who perpetuated the witch hunts and patriarchy (cough the king and his army of hand-fetish misogynists). Mia also at one point makes tasting authentic Fojo Karacao cuisine all about her and not even mention that the borders of Glas Ddir were closed off with a Very Evident "Make Glas Ddir Great Again" slogan (don't think I didn't catch that, Barton). Forget that there's in-universe xenophobia, you gotta stop and taste to local flavor! On the other hand, I actually appreciate that there was no actual case of xenophobia/racism towards a specific ethnicity iirc shown. But the fact that the borders are closed and there wasn't really any evidence of that attitude being apparent in Glas Ddir culture was strange. I suppose it's more based on economical policy in this case, but still.

Given that many of my complaints were directly addressed in the span of the last 30 or so pages of the book, I think Bree Barton IS ACTUALLY aware and purposefully writing Mia to be annoying and unwoke. She pokes fun at her own MC plenty of times, with Prince Quin's dialogue mostly, and it's entertaining. The second half of the book really hammers in the fact that everyone around Mia thinks she's real unwoke to reality.

So yes, even though I hated Mia with a passion all the way until the group returns to the palace, I will credit where credit is due, at least the book is self-aware that Mia likes making others feel small by making herself be a hotshot intellectual TM and she learns that her modus operandi could use a reality check and some tweaks to allow for more balance between the mind and heart. Mia actually apologizes to her sister for judging her and treating her like a victim and Barton includes some great interactions between the sisters. The writing even addresses that it was Glas Ddir's culture that made all these people do bad and misogynistic things and that people are not black and white in terms of morality. And how theyre capable of doing good and evil. What's the word?! NUANCE?! IN THIS BOOK?! Wow. I know, I can't believe it myself.

And as for the reviews I saw addressing the feminism and "sjw-ness" of this book. First of all, get the fuck over the "sjw-ness" just because this book acknowledges that the world isn't just whites and straights. Yeah, the main characters are white, but there's a bunch of brown 2ndary characters in the Refuj that stand well on their own. Mia's childhood friend, Dom, is gay and Fojuen. Mia's love interest and mom are both bisexual. Ya don't need a reason for why people aren't white or straight. But I do admit, it was kind of annoying how they ninja-inserted "and girls," or "and boys" everytime Quin or somebody was talking about their sexuality. Surely there's a better way to do this.

There are so many characters with the name Quin or Nic in YA now here I am thinking “wow, another?!” If Fojuen replaces all hard C’s with Q’s (volqano, neqrosis lmao), then Quin’s name should actually be Cuin because he’s Glas Ddiran. Quin is actually pretty good He gets shafted for a good chunk of the story, but when he has his moments, they’re so strong. This boy loves to cook and play music and loves theater. When he’s cold, it makes sense when he is. Outside of the palace, he’s free from a lot of restraints, so his real personality shines. I honestly wish he were the main character. I actually enjoyed that it frazzled Mia to see that he was clever and pieced things together faster than she did. She did get mighty insecure about his sophisticated vocabulary. I’m not quite convinced of his proclamation of love near the end, but I find it amusing he read the same romance novels as Mia’s sister Angelyne LOL and even quoted it when they kissed.

The ending
I am very conflicted about this book because I hated its guts. I really did. But then everything sucked so hard, the ending could be subpar and I'd still think it was great in comparison. The ending was quite strong and ended on a cliff-hanger. It was actually a pretty good culmination of Mia's character development, as annoying as she is/was. I'm a bit miffed that the ex-lesbian lover out for blood was really a thing Mia predicted correctly when she has horrible instincts about everything else. Every ex-lover is out for blood, so I don't blame Zaga. We had to have a Big Bad. There were some major pacing issues that could have been alleviated if there were one more substantial plot development or action midway through to get us over this large hump of Mia and Quin being lost in the forest for like one day and then Mia training to be Dujia for like one day. Maybe then the climax wouldn't have felt so sudden and the shift in writing quality wouldn't have been so apparent.

The writing was really strong in the last ten pages. Not only was the reader allowed to figure out the Biggest twist before Mia, Mia finally made a competent decision in response to finding out! The symbolism with the wren, moonstone and snow plum tree was so good, I clutched my pearls. Birds and moons and snow are MY BRAND, and I feel a little dirty for getting excited about it here because I feel like I had a rancid main course to get to a delectable dessert of an ending.

Were there any positives?
One positive thing is that some chapters have different formats than normal - the how to survive the Bride Fall chapters and the dialogue between Zaga and Mia in the darkness are actually creatively done.

The magic system is actually not all bad. When the book stops trying to make bad science happen, it plays into its strengths with the actual Dujia magic at work. The power of the different stones is actually a refreshing contrast to all the "all-powerful magical rocks" that have appeared in fantasy books. It plays very well into the healing and destruction aspects of the Dujia magic. I wish Barton spent more time on actually teaching us the ins and outs of this magic instead of making me read through paragraph after paragraph of bad science. There's enough room to expand in the sequel bacause . I'm quite conflicted on picking the rest of this series up because I was burned so hard over most of this book.

Unfortunately, Angie isn't present for most of the book. I feel the late add-on of her character added a lot more depth to Mia's character and arc. I hate that Angie was right about Mia but was sorta misguided with a twinge of evil. Angie's reveal also brought up enthrallment as bypassing consent thank god.

Overall, a frustrating read with uneven distribution of quality. If you're in biology, this might anger you. I would really advise you borrow this over buying without reading it first. The science is just so BAD ACK.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tanya Tate.
226 reviews111 followers
April 7, 2018
Expected Pub Date: July 31st,2018

You an also read it on my blog!!

1 Star

DNF @30%

I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Spoilers Somewhat

Yep I'm gone. I'm bailing quickly

After it started off with such premise I found myself being disinterested by 25% in.

Let me give a run down of the plot.

It's about a 17 year girl Mia, who is an arranged marriage with Prince Quinn which is the last thing she wants to do. She wants to be a hunter who hunts Gwyrachs, magical beings who are witches who can kill people by touch. When her mother was killed by one when she was younger, she was determined to become a hunter so she can revenge her death. When a life or death situation arises, her life turns upside down when it's reveal that she's a Gwyrach herself. Now she's on a journey with the prince in order to uncover the secrets of her mom's journal and the truth about her new-found discovery on herself.

Sounds good right?

That's what I thought too for at least 20% of the book..

I couldn't connect with the characters or the plot at all. The MC became straight out annoying and the love interest seemed blander than bread even tho I seen people compared him to Darcy and Rhysand.. ( I also heard he was Bi but I didn't even stick around to see if that was true) Mia supposed to been almost like Katniss and Cinder with trying to protect her baby sister but seem more like Scarlet from Carnival... The writing seems like the author needed to go though more drafts before this book could be considered for an arc. In other words, the author needs to fire her editor cause her editor should have told her this book works better in first person and tone down using the word "perhaps" and the phase "like a". I was changing it to first pov in my mind but that takes work and didn't feel like doing it for the rest of the book.

It supposed to be feminist but all I got out of it 30% in is that the men treat the woman like shit through the ages as usual and this magical witches are able to enchant the men and then kill with a touch.. Also the fact the men are rulers and females can't rule even tho the previous ruler was a female and she did everything right... Hmm.. I thought having a feminist feel to a book supposed to mean that women and men supposed to be treated like equals with no female or male bashing involved. Also I read an another review where it supposed to be attempted sexual assault on a female side character ( which 30% in was the only character I was interested in) which really made me throw my hands and bail quickly. Feminist alright..

Dear Authors



Yeah The Gwyrach sounds scary but you keep telling me these women with magic should be feared but not showing me. Yeah I supposed to be believe that Mia supposed to be a hunter who hunts Gwyrach but you never show me her hunting down one maybe when she younger with her dad or with the hunters. You never show me her even training to be one.

So more show and less tell!

Also Authors.

Perhaps sounds pretentious as hell. Please stop using it so damn much!

Thank you!
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
944 reviews769 followers
Want to read
October 19, 2017
Trust your heart. Even if it kills you.
OMG, the cover!!! I love it!
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Hmm...title changed from Black Rose to Heart of Thorns? Alright, not bad. I like it. Now if only I could get an official release date.
Wait I thought this was suppose to come out in 2017? Why does it say 2018 now? Ugh...

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Profile Image for Heather.
369 reviews16.7k followers
September 1, 2018
#heartofthorns was an action packed first book in a new YA series. I did enjoy the talk of feminism in this book & the strangeness of women. .
It did move somewhat slow for me and I did more a little more backstory of the magic in this series. If your looking for a new ya fantasy series to start, I would recommend this one.
I don’t know if I’ll continue on with the series because there’s just so many ya fantasy series out there but I did enjoy this one.
Profile Image for J.A. Ironside.
Author 57 books309 followers
June 18, 2018
ARC provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Ok for me this was 2.5 stars but I think I've been prejudiced by the travesty that was chapter 53. The book probably deserves 3 stars so I've rounded up.

I'm not going to rehash the blurb here. This is a very linear story of a young noble woman being forced into an unwanted marriage when she'd rather be a Gwyrach (witch/ demon) hunter like her father (who incidentally is who is forcing her into marriage.) Things go sideways and our MC, Mia, ends up on the run with the prince having discovered something 'shocking' about herself.

The book is divided (probably unnecessarily) into four parts. Part one is quite clunky in terms of narrative but the book becomes very readable as you proceed. It hits a lot of tropes and it's not subtle about doing it. Tropes aren't a bad thing of course - readers, whether they are aware of it or not, are looking for certain tropes in certain genres, but re-imagined and repackaged. So I suppose what I'm saying here is that Heart of Thorns doesn't do a great job of repackaging those tropes, while simultaneously absolutely fulfilling the target audience's expectations. There were few surprises but it was still by and large quite an enjoyable read.

I loved Quin as a character, which I was not expecting. YA love interests are usually a bit meh with me. That said I really don't want him with the MC because he can do better! While I'm on the subject of Quin, don't get too excited about LGBTQ+ rep in this book. It is there, but you won't get a whisper of it until about two thirds of the way through where a lot is crammed in in a short space of narrative. It's great that Quin and a few other characters are Bi but I wouldn't call it well done rep. It's not bad but it's sort of wedged in, so moderate your expectations.


Chapter 53 really pissed me off. The feminist message of the book had been delivered in a fairly clumsy, un-nuanced and heavy handed way up until that point but ok, at least this wasn't a YA fantasy about a girl finding the one person in the universe meant for her. But in this chapter the author managed to hit almost all my bookish bugbears;

- rape and rape threat used as short hand for 'this character is a bad guy', instead of actual characterisation.
-rape threat as something that all males will indulge in given half the chance, even if they've been starving on a mountain for three days...
- taking the one competent female character and first depowering her (using rape threat) and then killing her for the most contrived of reasons because oops she is competition for the far less competent MC and the author doesn't know what to do with the competent female character.
- yes no one is safe from attack, but this was just completely devoid of nuance and was so forced in terms of plot structure.

Spoiler end

Possibly one of the things that bugs me most in books, is when we are constantly told how clever and brilliant a character is when we are never shown that by their actions. In this case I think Mia is one of the stupidest MCs I've ever encountered. Being able to incorrectly recite anatomical terminology doesn't make you clever - seriously one of the most mediocre intellects I've seen on a character.

So as I said I'm torn. I can see how this would be exactly what some readers want. It delivers on the tropes of the genre, the style is highly readable, the pace is good and the plot is just intriguing enough. I imagine if you haven't read lots of fantasy you'll get even more out of it. Despite my personal annoyance with Mia and her clueless black and white world view and emotional over reactions (despite apparently being all about logic! hahaha!), she has plenty of agency. Other readers are going to love her. Personally I'd recommend this for people wanting light, uncomplicated fantasy with a feminist slant and a straight forward plot. Quin is adorable, Dom and Pilar and Karri are a great supporting cast, if somewhat underused. The things that annoyed me will be what makes someone else lover the book.

Buddy read with Melanie
Profile Image for Sanna G. Ståhl.
Author 1 book36 followers
January 7, 2022
4.5 STARS ⭐️

SECOND READ: Just as amazing and mindblowing the second time. I’m gonna read the second book right away!

This book broke me in so many different ways. Both when it comes to the plots and the way women are treatened in a way not that different from ours (minus the magic).

I quickly got swept into the story and couldn't put the book down, I found it very interesting and unique. In the beginning my mind (that is full of past fantasy books I've read) was kind of making me think that this would be like some other fantasy books I have read. But no. Absolutely not.

Barton writes in a way that both captivates me and makes me want to jump a couple sentences when it is almost TOO must feels to handle. This book is filled with feminist, strong women and a man here and there that actually knows that what the men is doing is wrong.

Mia's bravery and the way she evolve throughout the story is admirable and I love how swiftly Barton has made it. Mia is slowly but very surely changing as the pages turn but not in a way that is too obvious which feels very relatable and real.

Kirra, Lauriel, Sach’a & Junay, Quin and Domeniq are characters I grew very fond of. All characters got their own problems and depth which makes the story really come alive. Plus, the worldbuilding, is really, really great and captivating.

Thank you @speakbreely for this adventure. I can barely wait for "Tears of Frost", so if you're looking for ARC readers you know someone's who is extremely interested!

❤️You can find this review + a creative picture with the book included over at my Instagram: @sannareads
Profile Image for Tani.
245 reviews256 followers
March 12, 2020
Well, someone is jilted by science and logic. Yes, you read correctly.
Profile Image for Nanasg90.
97 reviews93 followers
May 10, 2020
4,5 🌟


Me ha encantado, simple y llanamente. Una historia de fantasía y aventuras, con un ritmo trepidante y unos giros de trama que te dejan sin respiración. Me ha encantado la crítica machista y la importancia que se le da a la solidaridad entre mujeres.

Lo único que me ha hecho no darle el 5, es que, en mi opinión, el final es demasiado abierto. Eso sí, te deja con una necesidad enorme de leer el siguiente 😱

Próximamente reseña en: https://rincondemarlau.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Bright Star.
388 reviews125 followers
August 5, 2018
"Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder."

And here another book with great potential but poorly developed.
From the line above I was so sure Heart of Thorns would have been an interesting story but, alas, it was bland and with the same old YA tropes.
Dear author, if you wanted to impress the reader you should have tried harder.
Profile Image for Katherine.
261 reviews151 followers
February 10, 2021
I Dont really know how to rate this, so I will settle in the middle with three stars 🌟 🤔.

Synopsis: "In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia's father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy."

My thoughts: So... in theory I enjoyed this story. However, it unfortunately felt very bland at times, and dare I say too predictable. I'm my opinion the book was too long for a conclusion that could have been 300 pages..but whatever.

Underneath it all I enjoyed that the book was highlighting feminist issues (Female oppression in a male dominated society.) However its delivery could have been better integrated into the plot. The connection of how females who possess magic (Gwyrach) and how they are hunted and killed could have been more (should have been) more captivating than it was.

As a main character, Mia Rose was interesting to a fault. I liked that the author highlighted her intelligence and her love of anatomy, but she was a bit oblivious to the emotions of others..something I hope she gets better at in book two.

Overall, this book was a bit of a conundrum to me. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. I could appreciate the story for what it meant to convey about feminist issues. However, I feel it was watered down to fit a cleaner YA storyline. If you want to read about similar feminist themes in a YA; I would suggest The Grace Year, by Kim Liggett. The Grace Year similarly follows women who are feared for their magic in society and are banished until they are rid of it.

It was okay. The romance has potential, but I was expecting more from the length of this book.

(3) 🌟🌟🌟
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,100 reviews458 followers
October 7, 2019
*Source* Library
*Genre* Young Adult, Fantasy
*Rating* 3.5


Heart of Thorns is the first installment in author Bree Barton's Heart of Thorns series. This is a world that is separated into four Kingdoms. River, Glass, Snow, and Fire. 17-year old Mia Rose lives in the River Kingdom. She wants one thing out life; she wants to be the one to kill the Gwyrach that killed her mother and set her on her own path to becoming a Circle of the Hunt Hunter like her own father who trained her for the past 3 years. However, in this world, women are rarely given any say in whom they marry.

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

Profile Image for Christopher.
Author 9 books27 followers
October 26, 2018
Heart of Thorns is a YA fantasy book, but you don't have to be a fan of YA or of fantasy to love this book: Barton fills every page with playful language, thoughtful characters, and thrilling adventure. This book offers one reward after another, right up until its (surprising!) end.

Heart of Thorns tells the story of Mia Rose, a rational-minded young woman who thinks she's *sooooo* smart—until life throws her a few curves, and she sees that the world—and her emotions!—are more complicated than she initially believed. There is a lot that Mia knows, but getting to know herself is the hardest thing of all.

Profile Image for Anna.
93 reviews3,641 followers
November 2, 2018
Pani Barton, pani mi da drugi tom...
Profile Image for Allison.
157 reviews130 followers
December 6, 2018
dnf page 242 because the book is so predictable and the characters are getting really boring. I literally can’t force myself to read more
Profile Image for Sandra Lawerson.
416 reviews163 followers
December 10, 2019


Desde que su madre fue asesinada, la única misión en la vida de Mia es dar con la bruja que se llevó su vida. Conocidas como Gwyrach, son mujeres capaces de embrujar con solo tocar, una amenaza para un reino que las busca y las caza de manera interminable, donde cada mujer es sospechosa de tener un ápice de ese terror. Obligada a vivir diariamente con sus manos enguantadas, Mia está a punto de comprometerse con el príncipe del reino, algo que jamás ha tenido cabida en su cabeza y que rechaza completamente. Proteger a su hermana es lo que realmente la motiva, ponerla a salvo y cazar, con la ayuda de su padre y sus compañeros, a la bruja que tanto tiempo lleva buscando. Sin embargo, este compromiso podría hacer que el rey desvíe la mirada hacia otra parte, dejar que la sospecha se ponga sobre los hombros de Mia y de su hermana, conseguir que su padre tenga cada vez más fuerza para salir a por nuevas Gwyrach. Hasta que una flecha lo cambia todo. Teniendo que huir, Mia arrastra a su prometido hacia un mundo nuevo, abierto hace poco hacia ella. Un mundo desconocido, de incertidumbre, donde descubre y se hace realidad su peor pesadilla. Perseguidos, los dos deberán confiar el uno en el otro para sobrevivir, aunque eso signifique dejar atrás todo lo que se había construido hasta ahora. Porque Mia está a punto de descubrir una terrible verdad y, sin Quin, el príncipe con el que cada día se siente más unida y vinculada, sabe que será imposible dar un paso más dentro de una verdad que la destrozará para siempre.

Corazón de espino llega como el comienzo de una nueva trilogía de fantasía, donde las mujeres son tratadas con desprecio y temor a causa de una magia que cualquiera de ellas podría tener, una historia donde el feminismo y la sororidad estarán presentes en cada una de sus páginas. La verdad, es un libro que tenía en el punto de mira desde que descubrí que Roca editorial iba a publicarlo en español, sobre todo por la manera de anunciarse que tiene. Un libro donde el papel de la mujer vuelve a ser cuestionable, lleno de fuerza, rabia y grito con el que, en esta sociedad de temor y patriarcal, se intenta luchar y cambiar. Un libro que, si bien comenzó con muy buen pie por mi parte, al final no ha sido todo lo espectacular que esperaba.

Usando una narración en tercera persona, Mia será la protagonista indiscutible de una historia que irá avanzando y evolucionando hacia diferentes rincones y caminos a medida que se va avanzando. Dividido en cuatro partes bien diferenciadas, cada una de ellas está expresamente destinada a desarrollar ciertos aspectos dentro de la vida de Mia, sus cambios, sus revelaciones y su historia pasada, presente y futura. La primera parte es, sin duda, la más potente de todas. Un inicio de infarto con el que pronto estarás interesada y enganchada a la lectura, un comienzo fuerte y potente con el que la autora consigue atraparte sin remedio a su historia. A través de capítulos cortos y narrados de manera directa, con la primera toma de contacto en este mundo de fantasía y con sus explicaciones justas para no desvelar demasiado aún, estos primeros compases de la lectura van a ser un sinfín de sucesos que no nos dejarán ni un solo momento breve para el descanso. Una boda inminente, un plan desastroso que no acaba de la mejor manera posible y el inicio de lo que será una gran cantidad de giros argumentales en la historia, todo ello tendrá cabida en estos primeros capítulos que, como digo, dejan una buenísima sensación y con ganas de más. La rapidez con la que llegan las sorpresas no solo te deja con la boca abierta, sino que te conducen a una segunda parte donde te esperar descubrir mucho más. Sin embargo, esta segunda parte no es tan intensa y dinámica como la que dejamos atrás, una segunda parte más lenta y monótona que se pausará y se caracterizará en el cambio brutal que sufre el destino y la vida de Mia. En estas páginas apenas habrá acción, sí que habrá carreras desesperadas para huir y salvarse, pero aquí lo primordial es ir descubriendo la nueva adquisición de Mia, de comprender lo que tiene, de cuestionarse todo aquello en lo que ha creído hasta ahora y con lo que ha crecido. Es momento de probar, de tener miedo, de afianzar la relación con Quin. De seguir escapando a la vez que vas descubriendo nuevas cosas de la ambientación. Un ritmo más lineal que nos irá conduciendo hacia una tercera parte que, de nuevo, recoge toda esa fuerza y rapidez con la que tan bien empezaba el libro, volviendo a las escenas de tensión y peligro y, sobre todo, descubriendo nuevas zonas de la ambientación que nos deparará nuevas revelaciones y sorpresas. Aquí, todo el tema de la magia se expandirá, la hermandad y unión entre las mujeres, su visión, sus ganas de levantarse, de hacerse oír, de ser comprendidas. Cambia aquí nuestra visión de la magia, viendo que no es tan cruel como nos han contado desde el principio, un tramo de lectura que recupera los giros inesperado en el argumento para lanzarnos hacia otra parte y cambiar el transcurso de nuestro camino. Porque ir hacia la cuarta parte del libro es fundamental, unos momentos finales que van a tener de todo. Un caos de sucesos, uno detrás de otro, a cada cual más impactante, un torbellino de cosas completamente inesperadas que conseguirán crear unos capítulos que se leen rápidamente, volviendo a estar completamente enganchada a las páginas, siendo testigo de los cambios y los personajes en sombra que, aquí, saldrán a la luz para causar problemas que desembocarán en unas líneas finales que te dejan completamente asombrada y con ganas de saber qué es lo que va a pasar a continuación.

Como habréis intuido, quiero destacar de este libro la parte feminista con la que aterriza. Me ha parecido un acierto completo, y me ha gustado mucho la manera en la que la autora lo ha expresado y tratado todo. Mia tiene una fuerza deslumbrante, una rebelión con la situación de su sociedad admirable. Ella tiene los ojos abiertos, ve la desigualdad, la injusticia, la manera en la que las mujeres son tratadas, para lo que sirven. Y no solo no quiere convertirse en ello, sino que lo expresa, lo expone con su voz. Me ha encantado la crítica social que tiene, cómo denuncia que la mujer sea ahí solo un objeto para tener hijos o hijas, que no tengan el derecho de decidir qué quieren o con quién quieren casarse. Incluso el no casarse. Denuncia que el miedo de los hombres esclaviza a las mujeres, no tienen oportunidades ni derechos, nada de valor o poder en una jerarquía patriarcal. Y la sororidad que añade la autora en todo eso, es genial. El amor que se profesa, la unión con la que actúan. La esperanza a tener libertad de amar sin límites ni barreras, de conseguir lo mismo que tienen los hombres. Me ha encantado que haya tanta variedad de sentimientos, que haya representación de diferentes colectivos, todo ello tratado de manera muy natural y respetuosa.

Desgraciadamente, el libro va perdiendo algo de fuelle a medida que avanzamos en él, algo que se nota ya en esa segunda parte de las cuatro en las que está dividido el libro. A pesar de que pienso que cada una de ellas tiene momentos cruciales para el desarrollo de los personajes, aquí empiezan a aparecer elecciones o situaciones que no tienen mucha lógica, teniendo una conclusión predecible desde el primer momento en el que van saliendo las cosas. Creo que lo que falta para sustentar mejor la historia y el libro es más información de cara a algunos de los elementos fundamentales de la ambientación del libro. Todo el tema de las Gwyrach se ve bien, tenemos datos, una historia del pasado, una visión del ahora. Pero creo que todavía queda mucho por descubrir, algo que se ha notado al tener partes del libro que flaqueaban en algunos puntos. Sobre todo ha faltado más información para dar lógica a muchas de las cosas que ocurren, sobre todo hacia el final. Como os he dicho, los momentos finales del libro van a ser una sucesión de eventos que nos van a dejar patidifusos, sí, pero también he sentido que algunas de las cosas que sucedían eran forzadas y puestas ahí sin algo que justificase realmente esa decisión o acción. Hay muchos personajes que, de repente, tienen una importancia a la que le falta más base para llegar a ser creíble, y es como que muchas de las cosas puestas por la autora parecen decisiones tomadas justo en ese momento de escritura sin darle una conexión o línea anterior a lo que agarrarse. Junto a eso, también quiero poner como punto negativo el romance tan innecesario que aparece aquí. Creo que Corazón de espino no es un libro en el que hay que meter un romance sí o sí. Tiene características propias y muy buenas, suficientes como para no tener que tirar de un romance que, sinceramente, no me ha dicho nada. No creo que haya sentimiento o, al menos, ese romanticismo. Me parece más un amor de amistad y fraternal. No he necesitado, ni yo como lectora ni los personajes, una unión así. Incluso el pensamiento de Mia y su manera de comportarse y de ser queda contradecida a causa de un romance que, para nada, era necesario. Corazón de espino es una historia diferente que apunta más a la unión de las mujeres por la lucha por la igualdad que otra cosa.

En resumen, Corazón de espino es el inicio de una trilogía que, seguro, voy a seguir observando de cerca. Donde el mensaje feminista es lo importante, la gran cantidad de giros argumentales consiguen que la lectura sea amena y sorprendente y, aunque carece de algunos elementos que podrían hacer de esta historia una más completa, es un libro perfecto para una tarde de lectura.
Profile Image for Paula (She Sniffs Books).
170 reviews78 followers
August 14, 2018
Anyone else having a hard time rating and reviewing this book? Because I am...I have to think about this review for a few days...
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books474 followers
March 29, 2019
I liked this less the more I thought about it


First off, I cannot deny the fact that this was a fairly enjoyable read for me before I really thought about what I'd read. It wasn't written terribly and I really liked the dialogue and moments between Mia and Quin. And while I did notice quite a few tropes, I wasn't really bothered by them because I was enjoying the read.

"Tree," she said, shoving Quin toward the closest one. "Can you climb?"
"I'm not a kitten. I know how to climb a tree."
"So do kittens."


Then the last ten chapters happened, and my previous enjoyment felt soured by rushed plot points and sudden character shifts. And when that first bit of annoyance reared its head, the little things I'd ignored because I was liking the overall mood of the book came rushing back into my head. And so I shall do a pro/cons review here, but be prepared for the cons to greatly win the majority count.


- Quin
literally everything about this prince was great and perfect and this book might have done better if he'd played a bigger role

"Mia stared hard at the prince. He was currently hard at work spearing a fresh green pea on the end of his fork. This was the heir apparent."

"We're standing in the cradle of civilization," Quin said, "and you want to leave?"

- the writing
it wasn't GREAT but it wasn't terrible either and was quirky enough to sort-of stand out, plus there were quite a few standalone quotes that I absolutely ADORE and feel deep in the bones of my soul

'The place you were born is not always the place you belong.'

- the "feminism"
I'm going to get into length about the cons of this, but there were a few things I appreciated. Like the fact that not all the women in this book were out for revenge; they truly wanted a better world . . . but unfortunately it just seemed to me like this book focused more on the rage of the women rather than actual solutions and realistic actions towards a future where they wouldn't be so oppressed.


- Mia
honestly I really liked her until I realized just how STUPID this supposedly super smart girl actually was . . . like please do not make a character ignorant on certain points just to withhold plot information. There are other ways, okay.

- the magic system
ahahahaha what system?? I need answers

- the "feminism"

"We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman's body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt."

(I honestly truly love this quote BUT it also felt to me like because women had suffered so much then that gave them pretty much an open entitlement to revenge and on that idea I really don't agree . . . )

mkay bit of a long point here BUT the portrayal of this felt so forced and stereotyped and predictable. Now are there parts of what women have had to deal with that are all of those?? Absolutely! But in a book, especially a fantasy, I'd like to see something out of the ordinary, not just something that feels like a literal fantasy about things from reality. I truly get the rage of women against men; I really, really do. But I have never been of the thought nor opinion that an oppressed side rise up and basically destroy the oppressors. Violence just begets more violence, y'all. Just take a look at the muddled, chaotic history of the world! So to read about these women's rage, and then to have these scenes meant to further enrage the reader to be on the rage side of the women in the book . . . once again it just felt forced to me. I do NOT need overly-abundant (and kinda unrealistic feeling to me??) mentions of rape nor a scene of attempted rape to prove that certain men in this book are awful, awful people. Please give me a story not about women rising up for revenge, because even if they've been wronged in horrific ways, I personally do not believe that gives them the moral right to commit horrific revenge upon their oppressors. Once again it just creates another circle of violence and anger and does the problem really get solved then?? Give me a story of powerful women forging past their hurts, delivering JUSTICE (revenge really ain't justice in my opinion), and then creating a world of true equality and peace . . . not a shift of power between men and women, which then brings a whole new set of problems to the table.

- the plot twists
honestly this book just tried too hard on a lot of things, but one of the two biggest things it tried the hardest on was the plot. Even if it was a simpler plot, I would have been happier. But things just became ridiculously rushed by the end, the lead-in to the sequel felt forced, and all the build-up from the previous majority of the book seemed kinda pointless and pushed aside by the end.


This book could have been much, much better. Instead, it was bogged down by a sense of anger towards men in general (except Quin which is relatable because hi hello I love him very much) excepting a few minor selections because not ALL men are evil . . . but most of them are?? And the delivery of pretty much any point or plot arc wasn't really great or was annoyingly rushed. So while I liked certain parts and elements of this book, a lot of it fell flat for me.
Profile Image for Rox.
596 reviews39 followers
June 14, 2018
ARC kindly provided by Edelweiss.

All right. Okay. So...
I'm still really torn on my opinion on this one. There were some good things that I really liked, but a couple of things really didn't work for me.

The good
- A strong female protagonist that doesn't need anyone to protect her. (In theory, that is. She didn't seem to do much protecting of herself either but it was implied a lot that she didn't need anyone to..)
- Interesting side characters - our Prince is not a soft cardboard cut out and one of the girls that comes into the story is quite interesting.
- And um... hmmmm
I guess my opinion needs to be less torn.
- But no, really, the plot twist and ending had a lot of promise!

The bad
- So. Many. Cliches.
"Don't we all want to believe in something bigger than ourselves?"
"Mia wasn't sure when love had come to mean a cage."

-The writing was quite choppy at times. And there is an entire chapter consisting of dialogue in bullet point formation..
- The world building could have been a lot better. There was this vague outline of the world, with no substance in the middle. Everyone thinks the women are evil. End of story. No reason why. Not even at the end.
And how how were the women identified as having magic?
Tell me more about the other kingdoms! Are they at war? Is there peace? I don't know.
- Mia had studied anatomy and had this weird fixation with it, which translated into really weird narration at times. Like, really weird. And that's coming from a doctor who understood all the terminology. "My whole cerebrum is on fire.". Yeah.... okay lady.
Some of the medical terms were wrong... but I'm not going to go there.
- Okay. Now for the hard part.
So, one group of people say that the reason that it's only women that can have magic is because of how they've been treated.
"We were hunted and killed for thousands of years, long before we had magic. We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman's body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt."... "It is our bodies crying out for justice, seeking to right centuries of wrongs."
Which.. in theory is lovely. Don't get me wrong, I am a die hard feminist. And I absolutely don't want to get into fights about this, and I know that in a day and age such as this one it was 100 times worse than now because we have found our voices.
But there was a bit too much man hate here for me. It felt like most of the male characters were driven only by greed or lust, except of course the love interest or anyone related to the MC.
And that the real power of women was "enthralling" men - ie making them love or lust after you. Nooo. Give me a strong lovely lady that protects herself by stabbing out eyeballs and ripping out hearts.
I am all for empowering women, and if people love this part then good for them, but this made me a little uncomfortable.

Overall, a confusing read. I think I'll pick up the next one but who knows what will happen.

This is going to be a difficult review, I'm quite conflicted.
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