I was having some difficulty with my free NetGalley reads and nothing was keeping my attention. As I was browsing looking for something to order, I saw Thorn. I liked the cover and the description and decided to give it a try. Good choice, and it would make a terrific read for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge.
Thorn is an enchanting retelling of the Goose Girl story. Princess Alyrra has grown up neglected by her mother and has had to put up with an abusive brother. She is happier in the stables or in the kitchen than in court. When the king of a more powerful kingdom arranges a betrothal between Alyrra and his son, Alyrra knows she has no choice. The problem is that members of the royal family often don't live long, and Alyrra knows that there is danger is agreeing to the proposal.
On the journey to the city where the princess will remain until the wedding takes place, a betrayal and a wicked enchantment change her circumstances drastically. There is little she can do about the situation and her new station in life, but she has begun to develop a friendship with the magical horse Falada. (I love Falada in any version of the story, but perhaps this version touched me even more deeply). The friendship and support of Falada makes Alyrra's new life as a goose girl more than bearable, and she finds other steadfast friends among her new acquaintances.
The author weaves an interesting version of this familiar tale that doesn't eliminate some of the darker elements of classic fairy tales. She also allows for some pondering about what justice really means, about friendship, and about trust.
There are some excellent retellings of fairy tales out there by Shannon Hale, Donna Jo Napoli, Robin McKinley, and others, but Thorn is right up there with the very best of them.
YA/Fairy Tale. 2014. Print version: 249 pages.