Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!
Thanks to Delacorte Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
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Goodreads: Violet Made of Thorns (Violet Made of Thorns #1)
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: 26 July 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.
Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.
But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.
Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.
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Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
TL;DR: Violet Made of Thorns was a unique fantasy that was not entirely what I expected it to be. It’s got a modern-day fairytale vibe with sharp writing, fast-paced court politics and so much scheming! The characters were all on the morally grey scale and the romance was enemies-to-lovers perfection with so much snippy and quippy banter. The ending did feel rushed but it also has me eagerly anticipating the next book cos I can’t wait to see what happens next. Whatever it is, I think we’ll definitely be in for quite a wild and probably dark ride!
“To be rememebered as someone good, you have to do good. To be remembered as someone great, you have to get elbow-deep in bullshit and come out looking spotless.”
Violet Made of Thorns had an almost modern fairytale vibe to it with its sharp and witty writing. Some of the secondary characters were also given sardonic voices that at times made the dialogue feel comedic and modern and I found the style refreshing. This combination made the story a very fast and easy read and once I got past the 50% mark, read the rest in one sitting.
“Love is a fickle thing traded by fools, but lust is exactly that—no promises. It’s as hungry as any starving creature but honest in what it wants.”
Although I didn’t find the world-building particularly unique, it presented the perfect fairytale setting that I love with the dark and mysterious forests, beastly creatures, evil witches and enchanting (albeit drunken) faeries. What was clearest to me in the world-building was the court politics and this was surprisingly politically driven! Aside from the prophecy of the curse, court politics played a big role in pushing the plot forward and while I’m not always a fan of so much politics, I really enjoyed the scheming, especially Violet’s role in all of it.
“You don’t know how brilliant you could be if you had any courage.”
Even before I picked up the book, I kept hearing about how morally grey Violet and the other characters are and they weren’t wrong! Violet is one of those perfectly flawed characters who are self-serving, ruthless, and who’d basically do anything to maintain her good standing as the Seer in the Kingdom—even if it meant throwing certain people (ie. Prince Cyrus) under the bus. I tend to really dislike characters that are, well, this “unlikeable” but I loved her character! The conflicting emotions she experienced made her all the more human and oddly likeable to me.
“Sometimes I want to kiss him and sometimes I want to ruin him, but most of the time, I want those actions to be one and the same.”
Cyrus was also a pretty interesting princely character who had so many different faces that it was hard to pin him down at first. I honestly kind of wish that we got his POV too because I can tell there’s so much going on beneath the surface and I wanted to get a better understanding of his motives. Dante and Camilla were secondary characters that I really liked but was simultaneously suspicious of. No one in this story was really free from being morally grey because they all had secrets and motives that made them do terrible things for what they believed was best for their kingdom. I only wished that we got to learn more about them!
“If I must be a villain, I will be one of my own making.”
What I loved most though was the romance. The cutting and quippy banter were SO GOOD and I kept wanting more of it! Talk about true enemies to lovers because woo, the tension ran hot and deep and I never knew whether they were gonna kiss or kill each other! Even when they crossed the line to being lovers, it most certainly wasn’t gentle but it was biting and sharp and I absolutely LOVED it. Seriously, the chemistry was hot enough to set a room on fire and it absolutely burned up my Kindle something fierce. I wasn’t expecting the romance to be so strong but the romance lover in me lived for every moment of it! 🔥
“Had I killed him, I might have simply carved him from my mind. But instead, I cursed his heart twice: once with a thorn and once with his love for me.”
Despite the ending being somewhat “inevitable and foretold”, I felt certain parts of it were rushed and not well explained—new information was dropped and then kind of left there which I found confusing. For example, the witch was a perplexing villain who appears at the end but whose origins and motives remain unclear even as she’s “dealt” with. Basically, there’s a lot that happens in a short time frame including several revelations but because it happens so quickly with little processing time before the next scene unfolds, it honestly felt a little underwhelming.
“I’ve always known that the queen beside me would be better made of ice than flesh,” he murmurs. “That it would be cruel to love anyone less resilient. But I didn’t expect to find myself so willing.”
The last chapter does set things up very nicely for the next book though and I’m hoping that everything I felt was missing and wanted more of in this first book gets resolved in the next one! I can’t wait to see what happens next and I’m already eagerly anticipating more angsty romance, action and intrigue!
Gina Chen tells stories about fantastic worlds featuring heroines, antiheroines, and the kind of cleverness that brings trouble in its wake. A self-taught artist with a degree in computer science, she generates creative nonsense in all forms of media and always has a project stewing. Violet Made of Thorns is her debut fantasy novel. For more info, visit actualgina.com and follow @actualgina on Twitter and Instagram.
Have you read Violet Made of Thorns or is it on your TBR?