Review: The Thorn Princess

After taking a brief hiatus from the weirdly specific genre of girls from the real world who find out they're actually faery princesses, I decided to take a risk and dive into The Thorn Princess by Bekah Harris. This wasn't the worst book I've read with this plot, but it had all the usual suspects of paranormal YA fantasy romance novels. There's the average down-on-her-luck teen protagonist who's so unremarkable that any reader can place themselves in her shoes, the quirky best friend, and the oh-so-sexy supernatural love interest who comes into her life like a whirlwind to whisk her away to a fantasy land. Despite all of these stereotypes, the story was enjoyable enough for what it was. There were no major plotholes, and the characters remained consistent throughout. However, it was so similar to other books in this genre that I felt no motivation to read more of the series once I completed it.

The Thorn Princess by Bekah Harris

The Thorn Princess centers around Ivy Hawthorne, the lost heir to the fae realm, but it starts out from the perspective of Bear, a royal guard sent to Earth on a mission to recover her. This was a refreshing change of pace since most stories like this usually have a mystery guy appear out of nowhere who draws in the main character with the allure of the unknown. Though that was still the case here, the book gives us a moment to appreciate the struggles that male love interests from other worlds must encounter when they have to pretend to fit in out with our earthly customs and stave off thirsty popular girls who think they're entitled to them. The book skips over all the boarding schools Bear attended on his search for Ivy and goes straight to the part where he enrolls at her school and falls in love with her instantly. Unfortunately, a book about a fae soldier pretending to fit in at a number of boarding schools on Earth could have been a lot more interesting than the story that this book tells.

Once Bear finds Ivy, The Thorn Princess quickly dissolves into "been there, done that" territory. Ivy and her best friend, Jules, are entranced by this mysterious handsome boy who showed up out of nowhere at their drab boarding school that takes an immediate liking to Ivy even though she has done nothing to attract his attention. This is where the book reaches the sketchy territory that most YA paranormal romance novels seem to have. Bear borderline stalks Ivy and acts like he's her boyfriend the moment he meets her, and neither Ivy nor Jules seems to take any issue with this. In fact, they are both excited at the prospect of Ivy having her first boyfriend despite knowing absolutely nothing about him except that he seems to be keeping a truckload of secrets. Even when Bear tells Ivy that he has come to take her away to the fae realm where she will be forced to marry a stranger and her life will be constantly threatened, she goes with him with hardly a second thought and doesn't even tell Jules she's leaving her forever.

As much as I wanted to be impressed by this book's depiction of the fae court, this one left me underwhelmed. I guess I've read and watched so many other faery stories that I've been spoiled. Bekah Harris relies heavily on pre-conceived notions of fae mythology like the Seelie and Unseelie courts and explains Ivy's unique circumstances as being a changeling, something that was also covered recently in Fate: The Winx Saga. It was intriguing that the real daughter of Ivy's human parents grew up in the Seelie court as a faery princess before finding out that her entire life was a lie, but this book did not spend enough time focusing on that to make her interesting. Just as I thought Bear's life story would have made for a more original book, I would also love to read about Violet's life and what it was like to grow up among the fae court. This may be explained in some of the sequels, but it seems more likely that Violet will become a jealous villain that Ivy will need to defeat.

I think this is a great starter book for anyone who is new to fae mythology or is a huge fan of the "lost princess" trope. More advanced readers who are already familiar with fae mythology or paranormal romance won't get much out of the first book in the Iron Crown Faerie Tales series. Maybe it gets better as it goes on, but I had little motivation to read more. This book could have had a lot of potential if it took the risk to dive into Bear's acclimation to the human realm or Violet's life as a fae princess before it was ripped away from her, but instead, it chose to focus on the bland Ivy Hawthorne, who gets magical powers, a hot love interest, and becomes a princess overnight despite doing nothing to deserve any of it.

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