Rating: 4 out of 5
I had heard about this book from a few magazines, and so far it has been my most unique read this year. The Thorn and the Blossom is a fantasy romance written by Theodora Goss and was published in January.
What makes it special is that it consists of two stories written accordion-style: On one side is the POV of Evelyn Morgan, an American college student visiting Cornwall, and on the other side, you hear from Brendan Thorne, a local tending to his father's bookstore.
This hardcover comes in a box, and it takes a delicate touch to cradle the folded pages while you read. You can choose to start from either perspective, and I decided to go with "ladies first." I'm glad I did, because I felt that Evelyn was more developed as a character, and her ability to see fairies and other supernatural creatures is one of the few elements that actually classifies this story as fantasy.
I thought that the writing was simple yet beautiful, creating an air of intrigue with ease. I believed in the characters' chemistry, and enjoyed watching the ebbs and flows of their relationship. I enjoyed that Evelyn and Brendan, although in love, were also individuals who pursued their own dreams instead of throwing life's opportunities away for each other. Many romances get so carried away in 'togetherness' that the characters lose all sense of self.
Unfortunately, my review is brief, because the tale itself was so short. At over $15 for only 82 pages total, I did feel ripped off a bit. But I understand that the beauty of the book's construction warranted a higher price tag. Luckily, the story was good enough to be worth the buy.
My last comment has to do with a funny coincidence during my reading experience. The Thorn and the Blossom revolves around the Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. As I was nearing the end of the novella, I visited an English bookstore in Gotanda, Japan, called Good Day Books. One of my purchases was a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's translations of a few medieval poems, one of which included Sir Gawain!
I'm not saying the fates aligned or anything, but it will be nice to compare Goss' novella to the poem she references. Plus, translated by Tolkien? How could I have not bought the book?
I still have one more review to write, and I'm currently reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I just started it, so we'll see how it goes!