Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Early Review - The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss (4/5 stars)

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 82 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: January 17, 2012
ISBN: 978-1594745515
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Copy from Publisher
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was a beautifully written and hauntingly romantic read. It is a very short read, but the way the book is put together is interesting and unique.

Evelyn has been haunted by hallucinations of fairies and other fantastical things much of her life. Then she decides to spend a summer in a small English village and meets Brendan in a bookstore. The two get along famously until Evelyn starts to see things again and flees. Throughout the years Evelyn and Brendan are drawn together and torn apart; many parallels are drawn between their story and the story of Sir Gawain. When read from one side you get Evelyn's perspective on the story, when read from the other side you get Brendan's. I read Evelyn's side first.

This is a short but sweet novel. It is put together in a creative way. The book is bound in an accordion fashion. This way is you read it from one side you get Evelyn's story; if you flip it around and read it from the other side you get Brendan's story. The book comes in a nice box which is great since the book isn't the most stable with its accordion type of binding. The strange binding does make it a bit awkward to hold; but the book is short enough that it isn't that bad.

I am a big fan of Goss's novellas and short stories; her writing is always haunting and beautiful with touches of magic and many literary references. This book is similar to previous works I have read of hers. The writing is absolutely beautiful and creates wonderful imagery. The story is haunting and romantic. Evelyn is constantly fighting her visions and dreamy nature trying to make something of her life like her parents want her to. Evelyn is strong in some ways and a coward in others. Brendan is a similar character.

I love all of the literary references and love how their relationship echoes the ancient Gawain story. There is a bit of magic throughout and you can't help but wonder if possibly Evelyn and Brendan are maybe these ancient lovers finally reborn.

There is some ambiguity in the story as well, things are left fairly open-ended. Again this is pretty typical of Goss. I enjoyed it and was left to wonder what the future could hold for this kind-of-a-couple. The story it beautiful, bittersweet, and haunting all at once.

Reading the same story twice but from different perspective was interesting. Goss did an excellent job of echoing some conversations but also including different experiences in each retelling. Basically something that Evelyn would gloss over in her account, Brendan would go into in detail. It showed how each character was impacted by their daily interactions with each other.

Overall I really loved this book. I loved the beautiful writing, the subtle magic, and the literary references. I loved the haunting romance and the star-crossed quality to their relationship. It was a quick read, but a very enjoyable one. I would recommend to readers who love a beautiful and haunting romance with a touch of magic. There is some ambiguity to the story as well. It all reminded me a bit of Catherynne Valente or Elizabeth Hand's early works. If you enjoy this book also check out Goss's short story collection In The Forest Of Forgetting.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

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