Book Review: A TREASON OF THORNS by Laura E. Weymouth

Title in white on dark foliage
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for A TREASON OF THORNS: scratchy writing in front of thorns and roses

When her father is convicted of high treason, Violet Sterling is exiled from her beloved ancestral home, Burleigh House. One of the six great magical houses of England, its magic once kept her well – enchantment in its bricks and mortar providing secret hiding places, even lighting fires on the coldest nights.

However, on her return Violet discovers that the place has gone wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once fed the land has turned dark and deadly, twisting blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock, and destroying crops.

Now Violet must decide whether her destiny is set in stone, and how far she will go to save Burleigh – before it destroys everything. . . including the boy she loves.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this book. I loved THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS and was so excited when the UK publication of A TREASON OF THORNS was announced. Alas, it was published here in the same month as the first lockdown, and (as happened with a great many books I’ve been reading this term) I ended up in the wrong city.

It’s another underhyped (here in the UK, at least) book, with a gentler story line, but no less powerful. A ruined (and rather unnerving at time) house that is both loved and feared, a heroine trying to save too many people and torn between loyalties, and a king out for power. It’s a well written book, and Laura Weymouth tugs on the heartstrings again (though, admittedly, I wasn’t in floods of tears, like with LIGHT.)

I love alternate history, and this low magic version of English history where magical houses were bound by William the Conqueror (he’s known as William the Deedmaker in the book, and the Norman Conquest isn’t mentioned, but I’m guessing it’s him from the timings, plus William and he’s also well known for the Doomsday book, so.) It’s basically the world we know, but the Houses have had subtle influences on European History. I loved the little clues about how history had been altered, the off hand references for the alert (and well versed in history) to pick up on.

The book’s time setting is 1800s, as there is a diary/schedule with 18XX demarking times. This is a really nice nod to Classics that used this to let the reader make it into their world (same with Mr/Mrs X-) but also means detective work is afoot! The King is never named, and there is a Princess of Wales, his eldest daughter (something that’s never happened in English history – the few daughters who were heirs were “heirs presumptive” and so the only “Princess of Wales” have been wives of Princes of Wales, because the patriarchy.)

There is also mention of the Queen being sent back to Spain, which wasn’t part of our history as all the marriages in the 1800s were to Germany (thanks to the Hanoverian connection.) That means it’s really hard to pin down an actual time frame. Not that’s it’s important, but it was interesting (and frustrating as a history nerd!)

Unlike many 1800s novels, this book does not focus on the court but on the West Country, and is very rural, with a crumbling house and the local inn as the main focus points. It makes for a nice change and helps the book stand out.

I really hope her other books are acquired by a UK publisher, but they aren’t so far, as I really enjoy her books.


Read my reviews of other books by Laura E. Weymouth:

Standalones:

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