Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher (Reviewed by Shazzie)

 Book Review: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher
Buy Thornhedge here – U.S. | U.K.
OFFICIAL BOOK INFORMATION: Thornhedge is the tale of a kind-hearted, toad-shaped heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone completely sideways.

There’s a princess trapped in a tower. This isn’t her story.
Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?
But nothing with fairies is ever simple.
Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He’s heard there’s a curse here that needs breaking, but it’s a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…
OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon. In another life, she writes children’s books and weird comics, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections.
This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups.
When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies.
FORMAT/INFO: Thornhedge is published by Tor Books in the U.S. and Titan Books in the U.K. and contains 128 pages. It is available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook formats.
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher is a novella that revisits the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, but with a spin I believe only the author could deliver in a compelling manner: What if the princess is the villain?

The best thing about this book is how the author has created a story that contains endearing characters in less than a hundred and fifty pages. It is written with a dual narrative, split between the past and the present. The focus is on Toadling, stolen from her family to the fairy realm, and then sent back to ensure that the newborn in her family does not harm anyone in the guise of giving her a gift. Except, poor Toadling messes it up in the heat of the moment and ends up being left in the human realm to bear the consequences. The present contains a gentle night, Halim, who ends up at her keep, curious about the mystery of the place.
In the past and present narrative, Toadling stole my heart, and is now another SFF character I feel very protective of. Halim was gentle, sensitive, and honest, and while they may initially seem like unlikely character types that come together, the author makes it all work, and very well. Reading about poor Toadling’s past might have made me tear up a bit, and I did admire her sincerity and determination to right what went wrong with the newborn, as much as I do the author’s ability to blend the light and whimsical with the dark to tell a story with themes of beauty and responsibility. 
There were a few niggles in the beginning, but nothing that weren’t smoothed out with the author’s convincing and smooth subversion of the fairy tale.

CONCLUSION: This novella is as sweet, endearing, and fun as novellas come. I can’t think of anything more I’d want in a fairy tale revisit, and if you want to spend an afternoon on a story with dark and gentle elements, this would make for a great pick.

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