Author: Intisar Khanani
Pub. Date: March 24, 2020
Genre: YA Fanasty Retellings
A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own
Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.
When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.
With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.
*Includes The Bone Knife, a bonus short story set in the world of Thorn.
This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible. I know I’m only about a year late, but why the hell did I put this book off for so long? I mean, I know why. I’ve been a fantasy/paranormal romance mood for months, and this book isn’t that. Sammy over at We Write At Dawn has been screaming at me to read this for months, and I’m only now getting around to it. I highly recommend checking out her review of Thorn – I’ll link it here. While you’re over there, you can check out her review for the second book – which is on my TBR and one of my next reads! I’ll link The Theft of Sunlight Review here. And feel free to click around and give her blog some love!
Y’all, this book was surprising. I knew Sammy loved it, and I figured it was going to be good.
I just didn’t expect to nearly rage cry at work on behalf of Alyrra. The beginning of this book infuriated me.
Intisar hit the emotional weights per-fect-ly.
I have no other words.
Actually, I have a lot of words.
I hated everyone in Alyrra’s family, her court, her home. They all suck. Like, epically suck. The reason they hate her – stupid, petty, childish. Her brother is a fucking asshole. And as for how much the beginning literally had me shaking with rage at work, I loved it. I love when authors are so good at their craft, that they make me feel things so viscerally. I literally had to stop listening to the book for a good 30-40 minutes to calm down. I was vibrating with rage.
My co-workers thought it was hilarious that I was having such a reaction to a book, but I just wanted to hug Alyrra. The people in her life, prior to her journey, failed her. Thoroughly and epically failed her.
Even just thinking about it, recalling what happened is making me angry again.
I loved this book. As soon as I finished the book, I went and ordered a hardcover for my shelves.
Alyrra is a fantastic character. Her journey is so difficult and it’s just one thing after another. She can’t catch a break. The minute she starts feeling comfortable, things go south. Valka is a bitch. Legit couldn’t stand her. Like, I wanted to reach into the book and punch her. I want to say that while I hated her, I liked her because her character is so well written – and she was! But no, I just hate her. I also hate Alyrra’s brother, and her mother. All exceptionally well written characters, but I can’t even truly appreciate that fact because they draw such a visceral emotion from me.
But back to Alyrra, the shining star of this book. I love that even with all the crap hands she’s dealt, everything she suffered and suffers through, she’s incredibly strong, her morals are good, and like any person she has moments of weakness and moments where maybe the wrong choice is made. But she owns her actions and her choices, and she stands by them. I mean, her character is just amazing, and again, Intisar is phenomenal at her craft.
As for Kesterin, I kind of had him figured out relatively early on, but that reveal towards the end, I couldn’t have guessed that. In retrospect it makes so much sense and I loved it. He was a dynamic character – wanting to be better, do better, but also locked into a role and position that tied his hands a lot of the time.
And the world building! The descriptions! Everything just came to life, and everything felt like it had a purpose. I loved the fact that there was the King’s Laws for Menaiya, but you also had the Thieves’ Laws – two different kind of governing bodies that served their purposes. The city just came to life as did the other characters. It was so easily to picture and visualize everything. I loved the Alyrra could just be the person she wanted to be within the city. I loved that she was able to stand up and fight for herself with the freedoms being in the city provided.
I absolutely loved this book, and I’ve already downloaded the audiobook for Theft of Sunlight. This quickly became a new favorite and I can’t wait to check out some of the other stuff Intisar has written. I’m a fan and I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to read this book. Sammy was right, and I should have listened to her. Though, to be fair, the last time she screamed at me to read a book, it absolutely broke me, and this one came close.
I highly recommend checking out Thorn. Alyrra is one of the best characters I’ve ever read and her journey is so incredible and so good.