VIOLET MADE OF THORNS, by Gina Chen, Delacorte Press, July 26, 2022, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult, ages 14 and up)
A witch must help a cursed prince fulfill a prophecy in Violet Made of Thorns, a new YA novel by Gina Chen.
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. —Synopsis provided by Delacorte Press
Violet Made of Thorns is a twisted fairy tale of sorts with subtle nods to classics like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast.
At the center of this twisted tale is Violet. Violet who cares more about herself than anyone else. Violet who looks out for herself. Violet a seer who hates telling people’s futures. Violet is snarky, smart and creative, and she’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Violet Made of Thorns is billed as a novel full of “morally grey” characters, which is true-ish. Violet tells of her “lack of character” so often, it’s almost as if author Gina Chen felt readers needed to be reminded.
This is the book’s weak spot.
Greater trust in her own character-building skills would have better shown off Chen’s characters. And a little more world-building would have provided a stronger backdrop for said characters.
That said, Violet Made of Thorns is a fairly fluid read that feels familiar and new at the same time. It’s not a particularly deep fantasy, though it does feature some steamy scenes not appropriate for younger readers. It’s a solid, good read that’s worth checking out from the library prior to purchasing.