Okay, so I can’t spoil Heart of Thorns for you, but the ending skyrocketed my feelings for this book into space. Ending aside, I really liked the world building and specifically the magic system in Heart of Thorns.
In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.
Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.
But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
Heart of Thorns is one of those books that grabs you from the first line. This book has almost a post-apocalyptic feel to it, similar in world ideas to The Handmaid’s Tale. Women are oppressed. What’s new right? But they have to wear gloves all the time and they can be very powerful witches. And we all know what happens to things we fear? We burn them. But only women can be witches, so all of this oppression where they don’t really have rights is compounded with this fear that women could revolt, or be more powerful than men. See how this book just got me? I’m in a very vulnerable place right now and this book just poked it – in a good way.
Let me talk about smaller things I loved before I really say why I loved it. A big motivation for our main character, Mia, is her love for her sister. I’ll read all the sister books. If they could go directly to my house that’d be great. Thanks. I am living out my sister fantasies in fiction recently. So books with sisters just hit my kryptonite sweet spot. Just going to throw that out there now.
I adored the magic world building. This world basically views witches as demons and hunts them down. But a big question that is asked is: are we born evil because we can do evil magic, or are we turned to evil? It’s a big nature versus nurture thing that I’ve been thinking about ever since Frankenstein. I don’t believe that most people are born as powerful evil witches, but instead are driven there. Sure by things like greed, but also by necessity. Sometimes the right things are done the wrong way.
(One of the things I loved is that Barton is explicit in saying that magic developed out of necessity. As a survival instinct for women against men. That after centuries of enduring, of surviving, of assault, the magic. That was the one moment in the book that just stopped me in my tracks. I need it on a poster really).
Another theme that this book explores is the interaction between magic and science. Mia believes that magic is just often science in disguise. But what if there is just magic? The interplay between magic, science, and desire is bewitching. Because the witches use touch for their magic, there’s always this awareness of what is real and what is ‘magic’. But how do we trust our emotions when desire itself is magic? Especially when you can magic desire.
Heart of Thorns is entirely atmospheric and I found it very thought provoking. Mia needs to learn to unpack, to unlearn, to interrogate all these things she thought about magic, women, and herself to realize she’s all three. Heart of Thorns is enchanting, entrancing, intoxicating, and bewitching. It’s about embracing our inner strength and what you thought was wrong. It’s about realizing you have the choice not to hurt, to use your power for good, and that sometimes you have to bend the rules to do so. Check out Heart of Thorns on Goodreads.
Without further ado….
Fight a dragon with: Quin (he is so resourceful and I’d need it, because I can’t fight a dragon with brawn)
Sleepover with: Mia
Pine over: Dom
Character of my heart: Mia (yes I know she’s here twice, but deal with it).