The sequel to ‘Dreamer’s Pool,’ ‘Tower of Thorns’ also works as a stand-alone. The beginning contains a quick catch-up on the events of the previous volume (including one of my complaints about the first installment: (view spoiler))
Aside from that, though, I didn’t find the plot here nearly as troublesome as the earlier ‘Blackthorn and Grim’ adventure. Again, it’s a tale inspired by fairy stories, with original elements. The odd couple are installed in Prince Oran’s realm, living happily though chastely together, making themselves useful and abiding by the rules set for Blackthorn by the fey Conmael. (This book remains coy about his agenda and motivations.)
However, then a lady arrives at court, seeking a boon. Lady Geiléis says that her lands are cursed: a monster is trapped in a tower; every day its wailing and moaning echo across her holdings in a dreadful cacophony. A slight bit of contortion is necessary to make it so that Geiléis needs Blackthorn to come with her to try to solve the mystery and somehow make her way through the barrier of magical thorns in order to break the curse.
The fairy tale imagery and story elements are beautifully done. However, as a mystery, the way the story is structured is more than a bit frustrating. It’s clear from the start that there’s something suspicious about Geiléis, and that she isn’t being totally honest. It’s also clear that Blackthorn’s old friend, who shows up at an awfully convenient juncture, is being far too pushy about what he wants Blackthorn to do. Meanwhile, Blackthorn doesn’t really solve either mystery – she just kind of goes along with both things, wrestling with balancing her own desires with others’ agendas, sure, but not really ‘investigating’ any of them. Meanwhile, the author slowly doles out information in dribs and drabs, in a way that ends up feeling annoying rather than revelatory.
Still, both Blackthorn and Grim are sympathetic, enjoyable characters, and I’d recommend this for anyone interested in exploring a new angle on the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ tale.
Many thanks to Roc and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.