Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Review: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

 Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher
Tor Books
Publication Date: August 15th, 2023
Hardcover. 128 pages.

About Thornhedge:

"There's a princess trapped in a tower. This isn't her story.

Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?

But nothing with fairies is ever simple.

Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He's heard there's a curse here that needs breaking, but it's a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…"

Thornhedge is yet another wonderful new book from T. Kingfisher. Thornhedge is a fairy tale of sorts and falls in line with her other fantasy work, such as Nettle & Bone (and if you enjoyed Nettle & Bone, you will definitely like Thornhedge as well!). T. Kingfisher has an incredibly magical, fairy tale-like way of writing that I find utterly captivating, and Thornhedge grabbed me from the very first sentence and whisked me off into a world of magic, curses, and an abundance of colorful characters. 

Thornhedge follows Toadling, a girl who is able to easily transform to a toad as a result of her abduction by fairies at her birth. She has been raising and loved by these fairies, and her current task in life is to guard a tower that once received many inquisitive visitors, but over the years has become surrounded by large hedges and appears to be all but forgotten, which is exactly how Toad prefers it to be. One day, however, Toad's consistent days are interrupted by a knight who has heard about a curse in the castle the he intends to break...

Since this is a short book, coming in at just over a hundred pages, I'll try to keep more detailed descriptions sparse in this review so as to not give too much away. Thornhedge alternates between the present in which Toadling interacts with Halim, our knight, and the past in which we learn about Toadling's background from when and why she was first taken to her current role as guardian of the tower. This setup worked perfectly for the story and allowed the pacing to flow effortlessly between past and present, with each setting providing a compelling story that made it gripping no matter where I was in the story. 

Toadling is a delightful character to follow, and I really enjoyed getting to know her personality throughout this short novel. I particularly liked learning more about her upbringing by the fairies and how that shaped her into the person she is today. Additionally, I liked learning more about the particular fairies she lived with, as they are quite unique and offer an intriguing glimpse into this magical world that feels effortlessly classic. 

I absolutely adored watching Toadling and our knight, Halim, interact, as both are quite awkward in their own ways and I found it delightful watching them dance around one another and try to communicate both of their goals–goals which, of course, were almost directly at odds with the other's goals. This naturally leads to both trying to be as polite as possible while also asserting themselves, and it is this dynamic that really let us readers get to know both characters and learn more about both their personalities and backgrounds.  

I love the ways in which T. Kingfisher plays with traditional fairy tales and adds her own spin to very classic tropes and styles. There is something very magical about her writing that makes it feel both precise and thoughtful, while also feeling as though the story itself grabbed the pen and told this tale of Toadling in an undemanding and natural manner. It flows beautifully and made it all too easy for me to sit and read through in one sitting, something that doesn't often happen much these days. 

Overall, I've given Thornhedge five stars! This is the perfect read for any day when you just want to get swept away into a story that will surprise, amuse, and reassure you that there is still plenty of magic left in stories. 

*I received a copy of Thornhedge courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

1 comment:

  1. This was a five star read for me as well, one of her best, I think!