Alex Maidy's Reviews > The Thorn and the Blossom

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss
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's review
Dec 12, 2011

really liked it

I do not think I would have picked up this book if it were not for the unique binding. Having read Mark Z. Danielewski's two-sided novel Only Revolutions, I was intrigued by another attempt at the dual story printed on opposite sides of the same physical book. Where Danielewski's novel was almost impenetrable (you had to flip the book every nine pages), Goss has achieved an interesting balance here. You truly can read either story first and it does affect the other.

The basic premise is two Oxford students meet in the small Cornish town of Clews. There they share a variation on the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which blends into each of their stories in very interesting ways. Evelyn's tale takes a much more fantastic approach to the story that includes some hallucinatory visions that may or may not be real. Brendan's tale is much more grounded in reality. Goss has achieved a distinct tone for each; Brendan's tale is more masculine and sexual while Evelyn's is more romantic and sensual.

Each story comes in at just under 40 pages and both mimic dialogue from the other which gives the story a mirror feel. As I approached the end of the Brendan's tale, having read Evelyn's first, I felt as if the story was too short. I almost wrote this review preemptively to say that, but as soon as I finished the story, I found myself flipping back to the final pages of the first tale which does have an interesting twist. The book definitely warrants a second reading, reversing the order in which you read it the first time.

This is a nice, short read that is appropriate for any book lover, regardless of genre. The unique binding makes for an excellent gift and a great discussion piece. I would love to see the format used again.
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Reading Progress

December 10, 2011 – Started Reading
December 11, 2011 – Finished Reading
December 12, 2011 – Shelved
December 12, 2011 –
page 42

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