Cover image for Thorn
1st ed.
Physical Description:
495 pages ; 22 cm.
Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she's betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future. When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl. But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can't remain the goose girl forever. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.


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Hunted meets The Wrath and the Dawn in this bold fairytale retelling--where court intrigue, false identities, and dark secrets will thrill fans of classic and contemporary fantasy alike.

Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life, but when her mother betroths her to a powerful prince in a distant kingdom, she has little hope for a better future.

Until Alyrra arrives at her new kingdom, where a mysterious sorceress robs her of both her identity and her role as princess--and Alyrra seizes on the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But as Alyrra uncovers dangerous secrets about her new world, including a threat to the prince himself, she knows she can't remain silent forever. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds, and ultimately must decide who she is and what she stands for.

Originally self-published as an ebook and now brought to life in hardcover with a refreshed design and completely revised text, Thorn also features an additional short story set in-world, The Bone Knife.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--As is common in fairy tales, Princess Alyrra has been betrothed to the prince of a neighboring kingdom as a means of cementing relations between the two ruling houses. Even though she loathes her life as a princess and finds living up to her royal duties a chore, she reluctantly agrees to the betrothal and sets off to meet her future husband with only one lady-in-waiting to keep her company along the journey. Although Alyrra is aware that Valka is a sorceress, and an ambitious one at that, she is unprepared for the spell that is cast on her early in their journey when Valka exchanges her own body with that of Alyrra's. As soon as they reach the castle, Alyrra is sent to work as a goose girl, and Valka assumes her role as Prince Kestrin's betrothed. Loosely based on the fairy tale "The Goose Girl," Khanani's story is set in a dark and dangerous world of betrayal and danger where a sheltered girl learns to find friendship among strangers and a place for herself where none had previously existed. VERDICT Though well-written and dramatically told, this novel is replete with graphic violence, rape, torture, and executions, which may make it a questionable choice for younger readers. On the other hand, teens will find much to love in a novel in which the princess grows to become a force to be reckoned with.--Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage Public Library, AK

Publisher's Weekly Review

Princess Alyrra of Adania fears her violent brother, so it's a relief when her mother, the dowager queen, arranges for the pale-skinned teen's marriage to brown-skinned Prince Kestrin of faraway Menaiya. While en route to Alyrra's new home, her spiteful traveling companion, Valka, strikes a deal with a sorceress who is an enemy of the Menaiyan royal family. The witch casts a spell swapping the women's identities and preventing Alyrra from telling anyone; in return, Valka will help her exact vengeance upon Kestrin. Once in Menaiya, Valka banishes Alyrra from the palace, so she takes a job in the royal stables tending geese. Though Alyrra--now nicknamed Thorn--grows content, she knows she must try to reverse the enchantment; Valka's betrayal of the well-intentioned Kestrin seems imminent, and the beleaguered Menaiyan working class needs a compassionate princess. This originally self-published reimagining of "The Goose Girl" ends abruptly and leaves some plot threads dangling. Overall, however, Khanani delivers a moving, character-driven tale that tackles difficult topics (justice, domestic violence) with empathy and grace. Ages 13--up. Agent: Emmanuelle Morgen, Stonesong. (Mar.)

Kirkus Review

A reluctant princess must decide between a life of anonymity and facing dangerous foes.Despised by her mother and abusive brother, Princess Alyrra of Adania has little choice but to accept a proposal to marry Prince Kestrin, son of the ruler of the powerful kingdom of Menaiya, despite concerning rumors of violence and curses. On the journey to her betrothed, she is ambushed by her resentful handmaiden, who uses magic to assume Alyrra's identity in a plot to entrap the prince. Alyrra has never wanted the life of a noble and seizes the opportunity to forge a new life as a commoner. However, interactions with Kestrin and learning about issues affecting the Menaiyan people, particularly women and children, leave Alyrra grappling with guilt over shirking her duties rather than effecting real change. When violence strikes those close to her, Alyrra must strive to correct her wrongs before it is too late. Debut author Khanani's immersive and captivating retelling of "The Goose Girl," originally self-published in 2012, depicts a protagonist who operates from her experience of trauma and aches for justice. Some plot inconsistencies and character motivations are questionable and detract from an otherwise well-woven tale. People of Adania have light coloring while Menaiyans have dark hair and brown skin; there are subtle allusions to Arabic-derived terminology.Despite some shortcomings, an appealing retelling that draws in fans of fantasy and slow-burn romance. (Fantasy. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Alyrra, princess of Adania, has suffered at the hands of her abusive brother and distant mother, receiving comfort only from serving girls and her horse. When her mother brokers Alyrra's marriage to the prince of distant Menaiya, Alyrra assumes the worst. But her life changes before she arrives in Menaiya: Alyrra's vindictive handmaiden Valka, aided by a cunning sorceress with motives of her own, magically steals Alyrra's identity and her crown. Though Alyrra embraces her new life as a goose girl, she can't quite turn her back on what she knows of Valka's plans, or the duty she feels toward the life and prince that should have been hers. Though the pace sometimes meanders and some of the many plot point are dropped, this Middle Eastern--inspired retelling of "The Goose Girl" has much that will entice fantasy readers. A measured romance and an awareness of contemporary social issues elevate the text, but most alluring of all is Alyrra's strong, sensible heart. Fans of Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl (2003) will find this a solid successor.