by Gina Chen
Publication: July 26, 2022
Series: Violet Made of Thorns #1
A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.
Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.
But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.
Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gina Chen tells stories about fantastic worlds featuring heroines, antiheroines, and the kind of cleverness that brings trouble in its wake. A self-taught artist with a degree in computer science, she generates creative nonsense in all forms of media and always has a project stewing. Violet Made of Thorns is her debut fantasy novel. For more info, visit actualgina.com and follow @actualgina on Twitter and Instagram.
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VIOLET MADE OF THORNS
1. You enjoy fairytales even more when they’re a bit…twisted.
The book isn’t a retelling but feels like a mash of multiple fairytales with witches, curses, and fairies abound. I adored this about the book. There are nods to classic tales, including Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Even as the tale feels familiar, it entrenches readers in its own spell because its different enough, dark enough that readers know it isn’t the standard fare nor is Violet the standard damsel.
“The best part of being a Seer isn’t the tower or the amenities or the access to the king. It was how easily everyone believes what you say.“
2. You like a protagonist who owns their power.
Violet understands her way around court politics and who she needs to please to maintain her role. She may be the king’s seer, but she isn’t anyone’s pawn. If people think they can use her, it’s usually because she lets them. Violet is bold, a brazen character who speaks her mind. She doesn’t hide behind a veil of deceit; she ensures people know what she is capable of.
“I know as a last resort, I could beg Cyrus to change his mind. If I played damsel in distress and crumpled sobbing in his arms…I’d rather ship myself across the sea in a crate.”
3. You think morally grey characters are the best kind of characters.
People aren’t entirely good nor are they entirely evil. Chen does a superb job fleshing out Violet as someone with realistic expectations of her future. Her lack of regard for morals doesn’t come from a grab for power nor does she foolishly believe she knows what’s best for the kingdom. Her selfish actions stem from the simple, relatable desire to survive. It’s easy to try to pin her as the villain when she’s cultivated a brazen personality, saying and doing what she deems necessary for her survival. Can you blame her?
“I don’t have the luxury of being nice. The only people who are nice are those who have never had to claw for anything they’ve wanted.”
4. You sharpen your knives even to use against those dearest to you.
Although the focus remains on Violet, there is a sufficient amount of court politics at play. Scheming is rampant throughout the kingdom, but with the book told from Violet’s point of view we get to see the lengths certain people will go to maintain authority. The struggle for power is a predominant theme throughout the book, and if you like political intrigue, this will surely satisfy the craving.
“I’m privy to his secret plans, more so than his own son is. I’m useful, that’s worth more than any love I could offer.”
5. You look for love in the wrong places.
There are many reasons people, me included, enjoy enemies-to-lovers. The hate-filled banter between two individuals often hides an irresistible, difficult to explain attraction to each other. Violet and Cyrus’s relationship drips with antagonism. They can’t stand each other and lack patience in the other’s presence. Their conversations are often barb-filled, but it works deliciously to fan their attraction and the passion hidden under it all.
“I rock forward as if in dance, heart racing. I’ve missed this–these arguments where we circle like fenders, trading beats, and feints.”
**Thank you to TBR and Beyond tours for allowing me to be part of the tour. Remember to check out the schedule visit more posts. Also, thank you to the publisher and author for providing an eARC.**