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Violet Made of Thorns #1

Violet Made of Thorns

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A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

364 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 26, 2022

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About the author

Gina Chen

6 books548 followers
Gina Chen spent most of her life thinking she hated writing, until she churned out a few hundred thousand words of fanfiction and decided that maybe she was a writer. Her stories lean toward the fantastic, featuring heroines, antiheroines, and the kind of cleverness that brings trouble in its wake.

A self-taught artist with a degree in computer science, she generates creative nonsense in all forms of media and always has a project stewing. She has particular fondness for fairy tales, demon tales, romantic comedies, and quiz shows. Currently, she resides in Southern California, where the sunshine is as plentiful as its tea shops.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,519 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
May 20, 2022
I read Violet Made of Thorns because the blurb described it as being "perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove", both of which I liked. It's closer to the latter, but I didn't enjoy it as much as either.

It's biggest selling points are the steamy semi-graphic sex scenes between two characters who spend most of the book insulting each other. Love/hate, flirtatious bickering, followed by passionate sex is not without its appeal, but love/hate relationships are delicate, difficult to craft, and, if not handled carefully, they come across as merely inconsistent and unbelievable. Which is what happened here, in my opinion.

The characters acted a certain way then suddenly seemed to change their mind and become at odds with their previous characterization because... drama? This happens multiple times throughout and it became hard for me to suspend disbelief. I found myself thinking Come on, really?? when the make outs started.

Violet herself gave a lot of lip service to being tough and badass and preferring to "run among wolves than be devoured by them" but I'm not sure exactly what she did here outside of dream and get hot for the prince.

Outside of this, I found the politics and magic plot completely uninteresting. It acts as a backdrop for the romantic angst and never truly feels fleshed out and believable. Tidbits of information pop up-- often in Violet's dreams, as she is a seer --about dying Fairywood and horned beasts, but if we were really supposed to be concerned about what this meant for the fate of the characters and Auveny then the gravity of the situation was never felt by me.

Also

Comparing this to The Cruel Prince is a huge mistake, if you ask me. I recall how deliciously addictive that book was, how well-plotted and impossible to put down, with side characters as unforgettable as the central pair and twists and turns that literally made me gasp out loud... this book had none of that.
Profile Image for Chloe Gong.
Author 17 books17.9k followers
February 3, 2022
Beautifully vicious. Filled with court machinations and cunning characters, Violet Made of Thorns is a fantasy you won’t soon forget. Perfect for the fairytale reader who has always wanted the heroine to grow sharp teeth and bite Prince Charming—as a gesture of affection, of course.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,478 reviews29.7k followers
September 25, 2022
calling all fairytale lovers - this is the book for you. you will for sure want to get your hands on this later this summer!

this has everything you want from a classic fairytale. a prophesy binding a prince and a witch, a magical wood suffering from a curse, and a kingdom with suspicious neighbours in peril. it definitely has all the bases covered and doesnt leave the reader wanting in terms of content.

the only reason im not rating this higher is because i think i just had too high of expectations going into this. comparing this to ‘the cruel prince’ and ‘serpent & dove’ is a pretty bold marketing strategy and i think the magnitude of that comparison built this up to be a bit more than it actually is. not that this is a bad book, obviously, its just not on the same level as those other stories, which lead to some mild disappointment.

but overall, a great first book to a series that has set up the story quite nicely for the following books!

thank you, random house/delacorte press, for the ARC!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for may ➹.
463 reviews1,852 followers
December 28, 2022
…and YA fantasy remains my greatest mortal enemy!!!!!

2.5 stars, rtc

——————

playing a dangerous game of “will the YA fantasy disappoint me as always”
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,660 reviews229 followers
August 1, 2022
It started well. It petered out in the middle. It ended in flat.

The girl is neither a morally gray person nor really an antiheroine. She talks tough, doesn't walk tough. Being abrasive and mean and having a sense of self-preservation isn't gray morality.

The prince is inconsistently a good boy and a womaniser. You are one or the other, so choose already.

The characters have no idea what love is and can't tell it from hate. They're supposed to have been friends for years, then grew apart, became enemies, and now are lovers. All all we see onpage is the latter two, the rest we're told, told, told.

The worldbuilding is . . . what worldbuilding? Why does Sight exist? Where does the magic come from? Why is the Feywood rotting, or exists in the first place? How is the country's society working? How did they get that advanced if they're pre-gunpowder in setting and how did they get that underdeveloped if they possess gunpowder? Again, choose.

Court politics is just a bland king that merely taps his fingers, utters some orders, and a lesbian princess that's a stereotype of a gay fashionista whilst also being a superb swordfighter, apparently. All the excitement the court "politics" provide are shouting matches between the dukes of the Council. Zero schemes, zero alliances, zero actual politics and diplomacy. None of the royals appear to actually have the duties of a royal, and acted more like spoilt rich brats. Violet seems to be the only person that actually has court duties in this world.

Why did the villain come out of nowhere right in time for the wedding of the prince?

Why am I so bored and hungry and just about to forget what I read the moment I finish this review?

It wasn't a terrible book, Violet was entertaining and made the book worth my while. But the rest of the characters I simply couldn't care about, and the story had plotholes and sudden twists that didn't come organically. And don't ask me about the romance, that's probably the most forgettable part in the book.
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
694 reviews1,671 followers
January 4, 2023
"Sometimes you hate someone so much, you fall in love."




I will put it simply and say it: this book is every enemies-to-lovers enthusiast's dream.
It reads like a Cruel Prince fanfiction and is basically a retelling of all the princess stories I used to swoon over when I was a kid.
It's a little cheesy and abundantly romance-oriented, so if you're not a fan, this book isn't your friend.
The plot is a bit messy and, yes, I have a lot of questions.
The main character isn't always likeable, but she's different than our usual YA heroines, and she has her moments.
Cyrus is a dork (Camilla, tho 😍) but we love him and Gina Chen's writing is absolutely brilliant.
I wouldn't have minded a little bit more of wotld-building and lore, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless. Especially because sometimes you need an unchallenging book that's however entertaining.
In my heart, in the place that sometimes craves a book that isn't deep in terms of plot and has all the guilty pleasure kind of romance I not-so secretly love, this book was exactly what I needed.
Right book, right time, and all that jazz.
But yay, I love being surprised.





(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ this review is teen penguin approved! ♥
Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 49 books9,954 followers
Read
December 18, 2021
Source of book: NetGalley (thank you)
Relevant disclaimers: None
Please note: This review may not be reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, without explicit consent from the author.

Oh fuck me with a rusty teaspoon, this is ANOTHER terrifyingly dark, morally ambiguous faery-tale first part of a series YA thingy. Except it’s brilliant, so I don’t care.

(Seriously, though, my reading resolution for 2022is going to be: do more research and don’t embark on unfinished series).

Anyway, Violet Made of Thorns centres on Violet, an orphan street urchin and seer, who has clawed her way into a position of authority in the royal court of what seems, at first glance, a benign fantasy kingdom. Except Cyrus, the crown prince, is cursed, the king is not above manipulating prophecy for his own ends, and Violet herself is a cynical, closed-off liar determined to protect herself at all costs.

In case it isn’t clear from that description, I LOVED Violet with all my messed up, damaged heart. In the note at the beginning (that I sincerely wished had come at the end—I’m not mad keen on being told what a book is trying to do before I’ve had an opportunity to decide for myself if it works or not) the author says very explicitly that she wrote Violet specifically for those who tend to relate to the unrelatable. She’s an unabashedly flawed heroine who not only makes some pretty terrible decisions, but her defends her right to make them. And, most notably, struggles to do those things that sometimes seem to come so naturally to certain fictional characters: trust, hope, believe in love, surrender her own power.

I feel very seen right now. And slightly called out.

For anyone who has read Stephanie Garber’s Once Upon A Broken Heart, Violet is kind of the anti-Emmeline. And how much does it kind of delight me that I’ve read two YA faery tale books this year, one of which allowed its protagonist to make non-ideal decisions because she refuses to listen to her head and another that allowed its protagonist to do the same because she refuses to listen to her heart.

Anyway, I don’t want to go into too much detail about Violet Made of Thorns because the narrative, with its twists and turns and it’s thrillerish who exactly is trying to achieve what and with whom quality, is such a pleasure to watch unfold. But, believe me, everything about the book was pitch perfect for me, from Violet’s brutally sardonic voice, to the diverse and intriguing cast (special shout out to Camilla, Cyrus’s chaos lesbian of a twin sister), to the way Violet’s identity (she’s an outsider by social status and race, as well as because of her magic) is inextricable from her story. I was also incredibly impressed by the way Violet Made of Thorns gradually peeled back the layers of its initially generic fantasy kingdom to explore themes of colonialism, expansionism and the destruction of the natural world, and all without ever seeming forced or didactic.

And there is no way I can wrap up this review without mention Violet’s “Prince Charming” Cyrus. He is a flawed hero for a flawed heroine and, oh my God, does this book take enemies-to-lovers to a new level. They were enemies even when they were lovers. And, yet, somehow, swept away on UST and my romance reader need for a happy ending, I found myself rooting for them? In all seriousness, though, enemies-to-lovers is not generally a trope I’m drawn to because it’s hard to make the ‘enemies’ part as convincing as the ‘lovers’ part without making you question whether the characters should be together. And this often feel a little toothless to me, over-shadowed by its own trope (the reader’s meta-knowledge that everything will work out okay): that is very much NOT the case here. I believed in both the enemies AND the lovers, and the result was a relationship that felt genuinely unpredictable, precarious and dangerous for the participants.

Y’know, for someone who doesn’t read much YA, I’ve read some abso-fucking-lutely incredible YA this year. Of course, it’s not a competition and if you’re looking for something to read I’d stand by any of recommendations. Violet Made of Thorns, though. This book was amazing in all the ways. But it also felt … special, personally special. If your taste skews anywhere close to mine, you need to read it.

*Mini edit: while I grumbled about this book being the first of a planned duology, I should add that it forms a complete arc and offers significant emotional payoff. It leaves the characters facing an uncertain future but it doesn't leave you hanging. So it can be safely read on its own term (as much as I am already excited for the next book).
Profile Image for Ana (Semi-Hiatus).
63 reviews102 followers
December 26, 2022
“Sometimes I want to kiss him and sometimes I want to ruin him, but most of the time, I want those actions to be one and the same.”

Violet Made of Thorns was a surprisingly good book. It's a dark fantasy book which is one of my favourite genres. So that's always a plus point. It reminded me of a lot of 'The Cruel Prince'. It had most of the things I liked about TCP.

Violet was an interesting protagonist and it was fascinating to read about her journey. She was more of an antagonist than a morally gray character. I liked her moral dilemma. She was an unconventional character with her lying self and screwed-up moral compass. She was just so much fun to read about! I hope we discover more about her powers in the second book.

The prince was a mediocre character. His character was quite inconsistent at times but otherwise, he was quite alright.

The romance was also not that good. Their enmity was showcased quite well but the romance part felt very rushed. The hatred between them disappeared quite easily within days and changed into lust. And that lust easily changed into love. It wasn't very well-developed.

I think my biggest issue with this book along with the romance is the world-building. I have no idea what happened there. It was perplexing at best and terrible at worst. Things weren't established well enough. Because of that, the ending felt rushed and confusing.

Despite its flaws, I think this book is very consumable and I'm excited to read its sequel.
Profile Image for Era ➴.
212 reviews495 followers
November 10, 2022
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC!

I’m definitely shocked right now. This lived up to the hype perfectly, but also in ways that I was not expecting.

The plot of this book was a fairytale retelling centered around the witch, Violet. Only Violet isn’t quite a witch - she’s a Seer, who can read the threads of the Fates in order to see the future. Or the past, which is less helpful considering her job as the Royal Seer. She’s been put in charge of prophesying Prince Cyrus’ fate.

A few problems: one, she hates Prince Cyrus, and the feeling is mutual. Two, the king is watching her every move. And three, she might have lied in her last prophecy about the prince finding true love.

I was in love with this storyline. I loved the dark vibes, the constant underlying tension, and the way things progressed. The pacing felt very fitting, and while some things felt too drawn out, the story never dragged or sped up too badly.

The world-building was really nice and I loved how it incorporated so much of the fantasy/fairytale elements into the geography and society. It made things a lot more believable, but also whimsical in a way. The magic blended nicely with every other part of the setting and created a really cool atmosphere.

“All the tales ever told speak of beautiful boys and girls falling in love simply because they’re beautiful. But even the most beautiful witch is strange and wicked. Unhappy ever after, heart unmended, wishes unheeded, and alone, always alone.
Cyrus will get showered with rose petals on his wedding day.
I get thorns.”


The characters were all very well-written and I could identify them by personality and traits easily. None of them were really developed, other than Violet and Cyrus, but I think just being able to understand them quickly was a mark for good characterization.

I loved how Violet didn’t feel much remorse for lying or stealing, and was never afraid to scheme for her own advantage. She was witty and impulsive but cunning.

But I didn’t really get the whole “morally-gray” thing that the book was trying to sell. A lot of the time, it felt like she was teetering between “good and bad” and trying to choose one or the other, rather than being in between or a good blend of both.

Also, Princess Camilla was amazing and a lesbian icon and I stan her more than anyone else in the book.

Cyrus I didn’t actually care about that much, but I liked what he did for the plot and for Violet. His involvement and the things he did were important, even though they were mostly infuriating from Violet’s perspective. The dynamic he set with Violet was perfect.

Speaking of their dynamic, the romance was everything to me.

It was enemies to lovers, it was banter, it was a lot of tension between the two of them alone, and it was a lot of confusion and angst on both sides - and those are the things I LIVE for. I was so skeptical at first when people compared this book to The Cruel Prince, but I see it now.

Gina Chen was right when she called this the “I can fix her” x “I can make him worse” dynamic because IT IS and it works so well between them. I was so excited for this romance and it didn’t disappoint.

“A single lock of his smoothed hair falls out of place as he dips his head, his gaze shadowed beneath long lashes. “You don’t have a single selfless thought in that blessed mind of yours, and I will never oblige myself to someone like that. Be proud, because pride is all you have.”
My blood hums. If he wants to put me in my place, I’ll put him in his.”


“I know you think I’m some honorable half-wit, and I appreciate that very much. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I like it when my enemies underestimate me.”
Tread carefully. “I’m your enemy?”
“We’ll see.”


“Words loosen from my tongue faster than I can parse them; they’d always been there in the back of my mind, waiting to corner him. “As much as you loathe it, I’m the only one you don’t have to pretend with, so here you are. I see the way you look at me.” Those green eyes of his darken into twin chasms. “You don’t hate me. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re trying your hardest not to want me.”

What did disappoint me was the Asian representation, or rather the lack thereof. This book was sold as a dark-fairytale Asian retelling, which made me anticipate something like Forest of A Thousand Lanterns (Eastern-Asian world, dynastic-China inspired kingdom).

The kingdom setting of this book was solidly Western and white, and Violet being what was considered Asian in this world didn’t really count to me as Asian rep.

For one thing, she didn’t show any of her culture. Aside from her appearances and her childhood growing up in the Moon District (the Chinatown of the capital city), there wasn’t much that actually showed much…Asian-ness, for lack of a better term.

I understand that Violet was an orphan and didn’t have anything to connect her to her culture, but I still think she should have had more of a connection to her heritage. The way this was told, she could have been replaced by a white girl with the same personality and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

Sure, the book addressed racism in some of the characters and how Violet was treated, but I wasn’t getting anything that felt like representation. More like commentary.

“Still, a title and a tower don’t erase a fear of things people don’t understand. When something as strange as magic lives in someone as strange to them as a foreign-faced girl, I will never stand a chance.”

I think this was a bit long for a first book, but I think I’m going to read the second one when it comes out. Because I really want to see what happens to Cyrus and Violet next.

Overall, this was a solid book and I was very much into it. The plot and the romance were intoxicating, the characters were fun, and the atmosphere was pretty. This had a lot of hype surrounding it before I opened it, and I was going in with very high expectations.

Most of them were met.
Profile Image for sam.
357 reviews514 followers
May 2, 2022
— 3.5

blog | instagram | twitter | pinterest

this was easily one of my more anticipated releases of 2022, and it wasn’t just because of the absolutely stunning cover.

violet made of thorns is a dark fantasy that follows violet, resident seer and witch of the sun capital. reading in her pov will make you feel one of two things: you’ll either love to hate her or hate to love her. she’s super witty and so much fun to read about. she’s also very confident and unapologetic for her words and actions which I really loved, and it really added to her character. personally, I love reading books where the protagonist is also an antagonist in the eyes of their peers. in this book, violet is the antiheroine that everyone will be rooting for.

“perfect for fans of the cruel prince and serpent & dove”. okay i see where they were going with this but i’m going to have to disagree with the first part. the romance is definitely angsty and filled with sexual tension but I’m not going to lie, this didn’t really match up to the level i was hope it would. but I loved reading the banter between cyrus and violet and how it kept escalating throughout the book. they played the ‘enemies’ part in enemies to lovers pretty well. I wasn’t entirely sold on the ‘lovers’ part though, if I’m being honest. I felt that it was a little rushed towards the end, especially in the last few chapters. but there’s a lot of backstabbing and betrayals that make up for it. you don’t really see that in many enemies to lovers books these days.

its evident how the book draws on a lot of fairytale influences throughout the story. i would have loved to see a little more world building though because the details we got just felt too limited. a broader view of what was going on would’ve probably changed a lot for me. I do also think that it just overall felt a little too rushed towards the end. there were a lot of things that did not make sense, leaving me more confused than jaw dropped. however, im hoping book 2 clarifies a lot of the questions I have. I can’t wait to read more about violet and her potential character growth in the sequel.

even though violet made of thorns didn’t have the wow factor I was personally looking for, I do think a lot of the elements at play made it a fairly interesting and unique read so i’d recommend checking it out at the very least.

» thank you to delacorte press and netgalley for the arc !!

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5/12/2021 | ENEMIES TO LOVERS EXCELLENCE !! I really enjoyed reading this one and violet was a really interesting protagonist. full rtc closer to the release date !!

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“fairytale romance for people who would consider literal murder before considering they might have feelings”

yes I’m a sucker for dark fantasies with pretty covers what about it
Profile Image for taha.
98 reviews103 followers
December 6, 2022
"i don't cook, i don't clean but let me tell you how i got this ring" vibes fr.

listen to me right now. i support women's rights and actively cheer on their wrongs.

i love me a good feral, morally grey fmc that can barely do her job but is truly breaking the glass ceiling. sis was like "yeah you might die, but i need to get my bag" and honestly? good for her.

not a single person was gonna have my girl's back in this crusty, dusty kingdom so she did what she had to do and i applaud her for it.

this book also hit the enemies-to-lovers trope center of my brain bullseye. people sometimes forget that a huge part of enemies-to-lovers means they're probably really likely to kill each other as much as they are to throw each other against a wall and get it on. these two were definitely doing both of that. the last 50-75 pages had me fighting for my life.

as for cyrus - i hate the name. however, he gets points for always keeping me confused about his motivations and keeping violet fighting for HER life in more than the literal way.

everything else i had trouble enjoying. the pacing of the book felt a bit off sometimes and the world-building was unfortunately non-existent for me. i wanted to know more about the kingdom, political system and how the seer/witch powers even worked. the entire story felt narrowed down to Violet's tower, one room in the castle and a couple streets between those two locations. that felt like an overall disservice to the story.

overall, i'd give this a 3.5-3.75 stars for pure enemies-to-lovers and i'm still really curious about the follow-up book.
Profile Image for Gina Chen.
Author 6 books548 followers
Read
November 5, 2021
✨ For the news, content warnings, and more, visit my website or follow me @actualgina on Twitter and Instagram

Violet Made of Thorns is my fairytale love story for cynics. It isn't very pretty sometimes, kind of messy all of the time, but hopeful despite it all—or at least, I think so.

I wrote Violet for those who feel they only relate to the "unrelatable" characters—the ones who are too cold, too proud, too much and not enough at the same time. Violet isn't your role model or your #girlboss (one of my peeves is ambition being uncritical shorthand for "strong" among heroines, when power is complicated and rarely scrupulous); she is her own contrary character: a prickly girl carving a place for herself in a world she doesn't believe in.

That aside—the story is fun! There's banter and dramatics and princely shirts torn asunder! It borrows elements from fairytales, nods to them, and gets kind of meta with them (but it's not a retelling). As for the romance, it's a bit of an...intense love/hate situation. Think childhood it's complicated-to-it's still complicated.

Well, you'll see.

If you've read Violet Made of Thorns and want to support it, please crosspost your reviews to retail sites (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.) when possible! It's incredibly helpful in boosting the book's visibility on these sites. Thank you! ♥
Profile Image for Paige ♠.
278 reviews742 followers
September 13, 2022
I thought this book was fine, definitely not as bad as the ratings would lead you to believe. I guess maybe it just depends what kind of expectations you have going in

I WOULD CLASSIFY THIS as upper YA, definitely not quite new adult. It's a bit edgier than most YA genre books but I would by absolutely no means consider this a dark fantasy. It's just not that dark. I think if you expect a bit more traditional YA then you will like this more.

VIOLET WAS A FUN character to read and I liked how she was selfish and untrusting and always looking out for herself first. In reality, she wasn't really that morally gray and there were definitely some times where I thought she was a bit naïve, but it didn't ruin her character for me.

🆗 THE ROMANCE WAS just okay. I didn't fall head-over-heels with Cyrus and I think that was most of the problem. They had some good banter and tension and it was steamier than standard YA (still not very steamy), but their arguing felt very childish sometimes and that did bother me.

🆗 THE WORLD HAS a lot of promise but I think a lot still needed to be explained. Violet's powers are still a giant question mark. It seemed like there were a lot of interesting creatures and magic in this world (dragons, fairies, etc.) but I don't understand how it all fits together.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you want an easy read in the YA fantasy genre. It doesn't deliver the same punch that TCP does because there's way fewer twists and less scheming, but it was still interesting and fun. I wasn't expecting a new favorite because of all the less-than-stellar reviews I read from friends so I was definitely very happy with what I ended up getting out of this 😊 I think what you're expecting going into it may play a lot into your enjoyment of this book.
Profile Image for ☾.
211 reviews1 follower
July 29, 2022
this could either go so well or so wrong and only time will tell



read: maybe i should leave dealing in absolutes to the sith, because i’m actually on the fence with this one.

the good news is, it wasn’t bad! i was entertained, really enjoyed the first 10%, and just regularly enjoyed the first 60%.

the not so good news is that the final 20% of resolution was… not too solid. it’s like we were trying to appease both audiences in regards to a certain decision and it just completely derailed the strong track we were on. not to mention an underdeveloped side plot that caused a huge plot point but felt completely out of nowhere (due to its underdevelopment).

final thoughts: a bit forgettable (in the way that i’ll be forgetting this book in 24 hours). was it entertaining? yes. do i regret the read? i don’t think i do..? would i reread? no.
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,156 reviews2,708 followers
March 28, 2022

The chances of this book living up to The Cruel Prince were never high, but I'm still a bit disappointed.

On its own it's by no means a bad book, and I would probably have enjoyed it a lot more had my expectations not been so high. As it stands, though, the comparison to TCP is a hindrance rather than a help.
mountain-outline
PLOT

18-year-old Violet Lune is a Seer, able to foretell people's future through touch. At the age of eleven she saved the life of young Prince Cyrus Lidine when she saw his death in a vision; he was her ticket to fame and fortune, away from her old life of drudgery. Fast forward almost a decade, and they're no longer friends. He views her as a manipulative liar, tool of his father, while she thinks of him as a weak dandy.

An old prophecy states that unless Cyrus gets married, terrible things will happen. So far, he's refused to do his duty - until his father decides to get involved. Using Violet, his pet Seer, the king arranges Cyrus's marriage to a mysterious noblewoman named Raya. But Raya isn't what she seems, and Violet and Cyrus's own hostility can't stop them from working to uncover what's going on.

Okay, that - in a nutshell - is the plot. Unfortunately (to start with the negatives ):

The plot becomes pretty confusing, pretty quickly. It's easy enough to follow the bare bones of it, namely the arranged marriage stuff and Cyrus's prophecy. But then random elements started throwing me. Like, what's up with the Witch of Nightmares - how does she suddenly come into it? And the stuff about the Fate who's not a Fate, Violet's dreams, etc? Most of it didn't fit very well together and wasn't explained well.

❌ Linked to the above: there's no emotional impact to anything which happens. We had a bunch of plot twists, but because by then the plot itself was confusing, they completely lacked the punch they should have had. You know at the end of TCP, when there's that jaw-dropping plot twist with Cardan and the coronation? That left me with my mouth hanging open, and I expected the same here. I didn't get that, because I'd stopped following what was actually happening.

❌ In most places, the writing lacks intensity. Not everywhere - I'll expand on this later - but in for example Cyrus and Violet's relationship, there was no sense of real emotionality. Hate transitioned to lust/potential love without me feeling either. I guess it's hard to explain what I mean, but what I'm saying is that I never connected with any of the characters, or managed to immerse myself in Violet's head enough to feel what she was feeling (as should have happened). Partially that's because the Cyrus/Violet relationship, the novel's emotional core, relies heavily on the characters' years of prior knowledge. These years are discussed very briefly - we're thrown straight into a contemporary setting where the characters have already known each other for ages, have a ton of history together, but that history is barely alluded to and rarely detailed. Result: a relationship I'm not really feeling. This applies to other relationships too, like Cyrus with Dante, or Violet with Dante.

THE POSITIVES

✔️ I really like Violet's characterisation. She's a wonderfully manipulative antiheroine. Jude from TCP is still my favourite, because there I FELT her internal moral dilemmas and I've already explained that I couldn't make the same connection with Violet. Still, I like the concept of Violet. Cyrus is a little harder - he's alternately portrayed as a relentless flirt or an honourable boy, two things I'm not sure mesh well together. Again though I like the concept of him.

✔️ There's some great prose in his book. At times it strives a little too hard to be lyrical, and crosses the line into eyeroll territory, but when it stays on the right side of the line it's great.

OVERALL

Right now I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel, to be honest. It's a shame this book couldn't live up to its high billing, but there are plenty of other books recently I've DNFed, so at least I made it to the end here. I'm sure I'll be in the minority and everyone else will love it.

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Profile Image for Erin Craig.
Author 7 books3,573 followers
January 9, 2022
Fantasy fans— rejoice! VIOLET MADE OF THORNS introduces us to a lush land where dark curses and magic reign. Chen’s prose is a delight.
Profile Image for lisa (lewis hamilton's version).
130 reviews413 followers
November 28, 2022
I will have to confess that I didn't expect to like this book, but Gina Chen nailed the delivery she promised, and I couldn't be more surprised at how I adored it. Violet Made of Thorns is an enchanting book with a refreshing take on the sub-genre of dark fairytales that mildly reminds me of The Cruel Prince.

VMOT has every trope you could dream of: strong Asian female protagonist, REAL enemies-to-lovers with delightful banter, royal setting, prophecies, and betrayals. The way the author put everything together results in a compelling story with strong twists and turns, and an incredible dynamic between the characters, both platonic and romantic. I would do anything for Violet and Cyrus, and I would sell a kidney to kiss Camilla. That's how much I love the characters.

After Goodreads, this is supposed to be a duology, and honestly, I know all too well the pain of waiting for the sequel of a book that is not yet released. My grabby hands need the sequel, like, yesterday. 4.5/5 - a surprising coup de coeur.

Many thanks to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for this advanced copy. This review contains my opinion only.
Profile Image for siu.
152 reviews702 followers
July 15, 2022
thank you netgalley for the arc!

a morally grey with a love/hate relationship with a cursed prince sounded amazing !! and it was compared to the cruel prince so i was super excited !!

that being said, i’m so sad i did not like this book much. i found the tension to be lacking? i did not vibe with the love interest at all. i thought their bickering was childish. and if i don’t like the love interest then it really, REALLY kills the book for me (even if the romance is subplot, i know, i’m terrible like that). while reading i did not feel very intrigued or engaged by any of the characters, dialogue, or plot (the real killer). i want to be at the edge of my seat when i read !! but that never happened. nothing really stood out to me. this book fell flat for me
Profile Image for kashvi.
116 reviews127 followers
July 5, 2022
3.5★

thank you to delacorte press for an arc!

violet is one of the best protagonists i have read about till date. she is sharp tongued, unapologetic, very prideful, and somewhat selfish. that is why i loved her so much. i need more books with not-perfect mc's- the ones who aren't a perfect balance, but the ones who have too much of something and too little of another. and it is safe to say i'm a simp for violet lune.

what wasn't too amazing for me personally was the romance between violet- the seer, and cyrus- the prince. i loved how they hated each other and still had casual endeavours with one another. what did annoy me a *little* bit was how fast the romance was towards the end. BUT this is a duology so i am very excited to see what the second book is about.

while violet made of thorns is a very unique book and that fact really appealed to me. the plot was interesting, but sometimes it felt like i don't know what i was reading.

in conclusion violet made of thorns is a unique asian dark fantasy debut with an antihero who will either make you hate her or make you fall in love with her.

TW: one instance of parent harming child physically- themes of emotional manipulation, fantasy-typical levels of violence- including death and body horror, self-harm in a ritual/magical context,
some instances of casual racism.
Profile Image for Isabelle Reads.
131 reviews229 followers
September 6, 2022
Violet Made of Thorns was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022. I was thrilled by the morally-gray-heroine premise, added it immediately after hearing the romance was compared to Jude and Cardan from the Cruel Prince, and Queen Chloe Gong’s personal recommendation never hurt anyone 😌

Unfortunately, today is a day of sad news: this was rather underwhelming. Let’s begin with the premise (it’s the publisher’s premise because ✨school✨ feel free to skip the italicized part if you already know it):

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.



Fantastic. Now the plot.

While the blurb makes it sound like this is entirely a romance novel, I would argue that this book is first a fantasy novel about the curse that is dooming this kingdom. There’s a little romance on the side, but it’s first and foremost a fantasy. The conflict is fine, but nothing special. The worldbuilding was sadly less than ideal, and more than once I found myself lost as to where all these different kingdoms were in this random fantasy world. We did have a map of the capital, but a map of the country would’ve helped out a lot.

characterssss

The characters. Ohhhhhh the characters. *sigh*

Violet Lune was a fine protagonist, but she was so determined to hate Cyrus and do things the absolute hardest way just to spite him that it just got painful. Cyrus was no less guilty, but since we didn't have his POV, it was a tad less infuriating.
Basically, Violet came across like the dumbed-down version of Jude, and Cyrus came across like the more hormonal version of Cardan. Because their romance was compared to my beloved ✨ jurdan ✨ I feel I should mention that Violet's and Cyrus’ enemies-to-lovers slow burn dynamic felt like the author occasionally forgot how far along she was in the slow burn and then just added whatever she felt like instead. Even the kiss felt so bloody random.

This, while amusing, messed up any sort of romantic tension.

anyways, it was an enjoyable, solid three-star read. Not jaw-droppingly good or bad, just fine.

sorry if this review is more tired and less energized than my usual, I’m feeling the stresses of school 😅 much love to all of you!!



Ratings:
Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
If This Book Was a Movie Rating: PG-13

Recommendations That Were As Good As Or Better Than This Book:
Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
The Darkening by Sunya Mara
Profile Image for SHOMPA.
307 reviews99 followers
August 20, 2022
*** 1.5 stars!

"Violet Made of Thorns" is not as good as the summary suggested or as I thought. Or should I say, yet another stunning cover that duped me!? Yet, did I learn enough lessons this time? NO! Will I make the same mistakes again and waste more time just to find new brilliant stories? Hell YES!

Anyway, let's get to the point. The first few chapters presented an intriguing idea with a shady protagonist and a small dose of witty banter thrown in to spice up the interactions, which seemed quite promising. However, as the story makes headway, the quality of the writing deteriorates dramatically and is also very poorly executed until the final page. Please don't ask about the romance aspect. I don't have anything to say about those cringe-worthy steamy romances. To be honest, if only the whole story or its main characters had been better developed, despite everything I would have given this book a solid four stars. Such a waste of a concept!
Profile Image for ash.
244 reviews188 followers
May 28, 2022
the YA fantasy genre is declining in quality.

the romance is pitched as "i can fix her" meets "i can make him worse" and what's not to love abt that? and our main character is an antihero too! so i was supposed to love this book bc doesn't that sound fun at all? i'm always up for fun! i'm an enjoyer of fun things! i was supposed to be very obsessed with the couple. yet i was sorely disappointed with the quality. like is this what the YA fantasy genre is producing..? truly? final answer???

like why was the storytelling so poor..... and why was the worldbuilding so lousy. why was the writing so lackluster and inconsistent. where was the impact? i read the words and i felt nothing. i read lines that i know the author thought were bangers, because i could just tell that the author was itching to write them down, but they did not give what was supposed to be given. she was supposed to eat, but she choked and regurgitated instead :/ i felt nothing while reading.

but hey, it's not completely terrible! perhaps the only thing i liked abt this is Violet's characterization. she's a liar and she's cynical and she's also a bit mean-spirited. i like her because she doesn't try to be nice at all. but that's all i liked abt the book. the romance was dry, there's not much to say. the promised hate-kissing did not serve.

the rest is abysmal. let me explain a bit: i said the worldbuilding was lousy, bc we have dragons, fairies (in tinker bell size), fates, and PISTOLS. yes, pistols! thing is, you can't just mention pistols and then leave it at that. where do they even get the gunpowder? see, i have no fucking idea what the world even looks like here. i have no clear picture of the setting, even the castle descriptions are paltry. i know we have a bridge, some halls, the tower (where our main character lives), the gardens, and..? we just have to fill in the rest apparently.

anyway, this is one of my most anticipated YA releases and i am so disappointed lmao if this is what the genre is producing nowadays, i do not think i will read any more YA fantasy. i'll need to find an alternative genre to read for fun. bc YA fantasy should at least be fun and entertaining even if the rest is bad, but this one is just laughable.

i received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books469 followers
August 3, 2022
All other hate-to-love/enemies-to-lovers books: YOU LOOOOOVE ME!!!!

Me: I do. I really do.

Violet Made of Thorns shifts its gaze to the books: hold my beer.

A quick note before I dive into this novel of a review: I would die for this cover. The UK cover is also I-would-die-worthy. If you haven't seen it, go now! Whatever editions of this book release you know I will have them all. *crossing my fingers for Fairyloot*

I just took a long exhale because buckle it, kiddies!

When I read comp titles such as Cruel Prince and Serpent and Dove, I know I'm getting some angsty romance and this did not disappoint. Enter, Violet. She's the court's official seer-able to see premonitions of people's futures. But her standing in the king's favor is rocky since Prince Cyrus seemingly hates her ever-living guts despite the fact that she once saved his life.

Let me sneak in here with a quick thought about Cyrus. I wanted to smooth away that scowl every time he came on the page. What is about brooding, angry boys that just....UGH

Violet's prophecy about Cyrus and his inevitable death isn't one she can just skip across, so when the king asks her to lie about Cyrus's intended bride, she goes along with it, if only to appease him and keep her place in the palace. But her own self-serving plans go awry when her feelings for Cyrus take a very sharp yet sexy turn.

"I am the worst thing in Cyrus's life and nothing has tasted sweeter."

Okay, let's get to the world-building. There are some familiar magic systems, but what I loved about this was the threat of the Fairylands and the horrifying monsters created from humans. I won't get too deep into this because I want to keep it spoiler-free, but I did not expect that ending!

The romance was vicious with lust on both ends burning the other alive. That's all I can say about it without drooling on my keyboard. If you truly love enemy to lovers, you will devour this chemistry.

Isn't it true that many people enjoy love/hate or enemies to lovers so much is because it's amazing to see someone fall for another person, flaws and all. They love each other because of their flaws. They need each other because they see who they are without pretenses.

Violet is a fully-realized character. She embodies self-confidence and strength. I think it's because I am so much like her that I immediately connected to her character.

"My curse, my ruin, my Violet-my heart is yours. It was always yours. Take it."

I don't know if I can live without reading the sequel NOW. There is soooo much to work with and Violet and Cyrus' story is just beginning.

Final thoughts: if my house was burning down and I could only grab one book to save, it would be this one.

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Profile Image for Darcey.
906 reviews191 followers
July 17, 2022
ARC copy provided in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my rating or review.

4 STARS OF INTENSE MF-ING SEXUAL TENSION

We’ve all seen books these days with labels decreeing they’re “perfect for fans of ACOTAR!” or “perfect for fans of Six of Crows!”, but rarely do they actually live up to expectations. But this book. THIS BOOK. When it says it’s “perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince", it is not kidding. This was possibly as close to The Cruel Prince as you can get without being too similar, and it had all the best things about TCP – sexual tension in droves, a nightmarish (in all the best ways) prince, and a kickass and not-afraid-to-maim heroine. I was sucked into this book from the very first page, and soon I’d flown through 50% of the story and could barely breathe from the sexual tension between these two mains. I know I’ve talked about it a lot already, but HOT DAMN. I was swooning with their every interaction; the banter was golden just the perfect amount of cruel, and their backstory truly completed their complicated and mildly twisted relationship that I just had to adore.

“Love is a fickle thing traded by fools, but lust is exactly that – no promises. It’s as hungry as any starving creature but honest in what it wants.
And I want him.”

(This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.)

I highly recommend this book to any fairytale lover – it was filled to the brim with magic, fairies, beasts, ballroom escapades and everything else we know and love. But at the same time, it came with a fair few twists, and was definitely a little darker than the usual fairytale – I loved it. Antihero, morally-grey – call her what you want, our main character was determined and ambitious, and I loved that for her. And while her Asian-related heritage was not often mentioned, I thought the little snippets where her appearance or hometown were alluded to completed her character really well.

“Still, a title and a tower don’t erase a fear of things people don’t understand. When something as strange as magic lives in someone as strange to them as a foreign-faced girl, I will never stand a chance.”
(This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.)

There were also some really interesting discussions on truth, who writes history, and how far loyalty to one’s nation should go – especially when that nation is run by a monarchy. I loved Violet for all her moral ambiguity; she did what she had to do to survive, but also tried to stick with her moral compass, slightly crooked though it may have been.

“All the tale needs is the villain, and the line between revered and reviled is as thin as an accusation.”
(This quote may not be in the published version of this novel, it was copied from the advanced reader’s copy.)

All in all, this was incredibly enjoyable and I look forward to reading the sequel!! Definitely recommended to lovers of fairytales, morally-grey heroines and The Cruel Prince. Thank you so much to the author, publisher and Turn the Page Tours for the ARC copy provided :)).
Profile Image for Mia.
2,108 reviews469 followers
January 6, 2022
Ok I’ll admit it – I enjoyed this WAY more than I was anticipating. Intriguing and deliciously captivating.
Violet I liked her immediately, this is definitely a character driven over world driven fantasy novel, which in the end I think worked here.
I really enjoyed romantic subplot but it wasn't overwhelming and it didn't detract from our MC, the story or the forward progression at all. Chen did an excellent job of incorporating this storyline in a believable way that didn't lessen any of the characters.
I think anyone could enjoy this story but it is definitely all fantasy. So I'll leave you with me screaming for second installment.

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