by Intisar Khanani
For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she’s never had … until she’s betrayed.
Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future.
But powerful men have powerful enemies—and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all that she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust yourself.
“I love reformulated fairy tales, especially this one. I have read several different versions of “The Goose Girl” which is the tale this novel is based on. The author has taken this simple tale and turned it into a complex, moving novel. I am awed with how a writer can take something and make it so much better.”
“While I could spot elements of the Grimm fairytale, it was a whole new spin. (I know people always say things like that, but I can’t help that it’s true.) The voice and the feel were unusual and I enjoyed the mix of middle-eastern and European customs and styles.”
“Thorn is a dark fairy tale that boldly addresses the evils of humanity while pinpointing the beautiful light of friendships, mercy, bravery, and love like stars in the night. The moments of grace are exquisite, and the unflinching look at justice vs. revenge is thought-provoking.”
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CIR: What inspired this book?
KHANANI: Thorn is a retelling of the Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Goose Girl.” As a child, the story of a princess who lost her rank and took her time reclaiming it captured my imagination. I read it as a story of justice and betrayal, and the power of a woman to choose her own fate when so many of her choices have already been made for her. Of course, it’s also got a talking horse, so there’s that.
CIR: Who is your favorite character and why?
KHANANI: I love the main character, Alyrra / Thorn, for her kindness and stubborn strength. But I think my absolute favorite character is Red Hawk, the young thief lord who lives his life in shades of gray.
CIR: Is there any content that some readers might find questionable despite the overall “clean” feel of the book?
KHANANI: My heroine comes from a troubled home and, living in the city as a servant, she is exposed to some dark realities. As such, this book has trigger warnings for domestic abuse and assault. Most of the serious violence in this book takes place “off stage” but the ramifications are there, and some violence is portrayed. Not recommended for readers under the age of 15.