Thorn - Intisar Khanani

Alyrra is tired of hiding from her brother in her own home and wants to make a name for herself that isn't overshadowed by her position as princess. Soon it seems things are bound to get worse as she is told she has been betrothed to Prince Kestrin, a faraway Prince that has a reputation for coldness. But when Alyrra arrives in her new kingdom she is not the same woman who left her home, literally.

I was totally ready for a strong female lead and this did not disappoint. Alyrra was initially very stiff as a character and I couldn't quite pick up her attitude but she really came into her own about one third of the way through when her mind is put into Valka's body. In fact in general the characters were extremely well written throughout this novel and in time each of them became established and immediately recognisable. Even with brief glimpses of Kestrin we can pretty much determine that he'll not only be a key turning point for the story but a strong character and this is purely down to the high level of writing when he is introduced.

The story line itself felt natural and original in its production, the individual aspects have been seen previously but by bringing them together Khanani creates a magical fantasy novel that cannot be compared to any other. And, although part of the main story is that Alyrra and Kestrin are betrothed there was no forced romance between them and the progression of their relationship felt simple and easy. None of that took away from Alyrra's bad-ass female empowerment story and it was very strongly appreciated, it was not ruined by a fluffy romance at the last second.

My only note would be that in parts I was just getting into the swing of the action, waiting for the next move and the narrative would slow to a halt when I needed it to push forward. Due to this the development really lacked when it could have become vital.

Ultimately this was a great read for a female-led fantasy, mostly we see lost young girls finding themselves after a male protagonist gets involved and shows them the way of the new world, falling in love and that's it. This was just not that, in any way, Alyrra was the female BAMF I was looking for when diving back into fantasy.

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