ARC Review: THORN by Intisar Khanani

I received an ARC from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinion.

Genre: Fantasy (retelling)
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
Series: standalone but with companion duology



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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I loved this book – and it should be on everyone’s radars. I’d heard of it before, because this book was originally self-published in 2012, but has since been acquired by traditional publishers and re-edited. Therefore, I was excited when it was announced it’d be published as it gave me a chance to read it.

I’ve never read “Goose Girl”, as it’s not one of the common Grimm’s fairy tales. This meant I didn’t know the basic beats of the story, which meant I wasn’t waiting for certain things to happen. However, I could tell (once an event happened) if it was probably a direct reference to the original fairy tale. That, to me, is good story telling – it doesn’t pull you from the world, but you can see the dedication and homage to the original.

I really liked that this fairy tale retelling does not have a “love solves all” element. It’s not even a romance, more of a friendship, which is such a refreshing change (for both fairy tales AND YA fantasy). Instead of winning over a prince’s heart, it’s Alyrra’s compassion and determination that win the day and provide a realistic hope for the future.

Without romance, the bonds between the characters takes centre stage. Like the characters, the friendships are well drawn. The warmth of the servants contrasts well to the dismissive nature of the court and some of the guards. The characters themselves will worm their way into your heart very fast.

The magic isn’t flashy and a major component of the conflict. Instead, it’s there to set up the scenario and then let humans create the conflict with their own twisted desires, negligence and general nastiness. It made the challenges Alyrra had to overcome feel less like they can be solved with a sweep of magic.

The pacing is good, pulling in new events and building towards the final conflict with the sorceress without forgetting to pay off the earlier events.

Read my reviews of other books by Intisar Khanani:

The Dauntless Path (this series):


2 thoughts on “ARC Review: THORN by Intisar Khanani

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