Author: Stacey Jay
**I received this ARC through NetGalley which does not affect my review**
Not all fairy tales end in happily ever after. The Sleeping Beauty never thought she would come to hate her husband and be banished to a dungeon along with her two young children while an ogre queen takes over her kingdom. Her only hope is to sacrifice herself and hope that one day her daughter, Aurora, blessed with fairy gifts will one day take her kingdom back.
Aurora knows what is expected of her, but when her brother Jor is taken prisoner by the evil Queen Ekeeta, she will risk everything to get him back. Disguised as her brother, Aurora enlists the help of Niklaas, a prince trying to escape his own curse. Both will have to overcome their secrets and differences if Aurora wants to see her brother again and Niklaas his eighteenth birthday.
I am a big fan of fairy tale retellings and while Stacey Jay’s Princess of Thorns is a different take on the like by continuing the story not from Sleeping Beauty’s perspective but from her daughter’s, it lacked enough originality and interesting characters to make it a compelling read.
I really question the romance in Princess of Thorns, not in how it develops per se, but in the object of Aurora’s affection. Aside from coming off as a bit of a sexist, womanizing jerk around Aurora when he is ignorant of her true identity, Niklaas is kind of an arrogant, patronizing bully towards her disguised self when they first meet. And while his character does undergo a change of heart, I still wanted to throw something at him. I did not understand the initial attraction on Aurora’s part except for the fact that he was simply there; his presence alone made him the love-interest.
I really liked Aurora. I liked that she was brave and a little reckless. I liked the fact that her love for her brother brought out these characteristic and despite being underestimated, she rose to the occasion time after time. I liked her so much that I could not help but think she deserved a better love-interest, setting, and plot. Women were universally valued less, seen as creatures meant to be protected, incapable of fighting their own battles. This felt like an unnecessary setting for Aurora’s story: she is blessed with fighting skills, but this only meant something because of the prejudice views against a woman’s ability to fight and there is something off about this. A lot of the story just felt convenient. The resolution just sort of happened with no real planning on Aurora’s part and because of this I wasn’t sure if the characters really earned their happily-ever-after.