Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1) by Bree Barton

Fantasy, 438 pages, published in 2018

Mia has devoted her entire life to hunting down her mother’s killer, an evil witch known as a Gwyrach. However, as she escapes from an arranged marriage she never wanted, she discovers truths about herself and her world that she never could have imagined.

Spoiler Free Review:

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I reread this book in order to read the sequel. I’m glad I did this for two reasons: I remembered almost nothing about the ending, and I realized I don’t want to move on to the sequel. I first read this book right around it’s release in 2018 and I enjoyed it, but I just didn’t this time.

Most of my issue with this book is the main character, Mia. I just didn’t like her at all throughout the book. She is so close-minded, and while I don’t blame her for that, it just got tiring after a while. Even after she discovers a lot about herself, I still found her really annoying.

My second big issue with this book is that I think it is just trying to do too much. Mia wants to find her mother’s killer, she wants to escape her arranged marriage, and she wants to protect her sister. This is all from the beginning of the book, so there are a ton of other elements to the story added later on. I feel like some of these got left on the back burner, especially her relationship with her sister. It is mentioned at the beginning and becomes relevant later on, but throughout it just isn’t interwoven into the story. This is just one example, though this happened with other things as well.

Another small thing that annoyed me is that Mia always speaks in very medical terms because she studied a lot about the human body. It got very annoying over time and sounded really pretentious.

I do think this story did a couple of things well. The world is very harsh on women, so there are definitely strong feminist messages as the women of this world are trying to survive. Only women can have magic in this world, so it was an interesting exploration of that.

There was also quite a diverse cast of characters. Pretty much any character whose sexuality is explicitly mentioned is not straight. There are also multiple people of color and people with disabilities. It is great to see books, especially fantasy, with diversity like this.

Overall, I just didn’t feel a strong connection to this story. There is kind of a lot that happens right at the end, but it just felt very rushed and didn’t really leave me with a sense that I want to find out more. I have looked into the sequel and what I’ve seen from reviews doesn’t really sound like something I am interested in, so unless someone can seriously convince me otherwise, I doubt I will read Tears of Frost.

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