Book Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Book: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Published February 2015 by HarperTeen|337 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: A Wicked Thing #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/YA Re-telling

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I thought A Wicked Thing was okay.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while (and it’s been on my TBR for years), and I finally got around to reading it.

I did like that everyone she knew had passed away in the time it took for her to wake up.  Can you imagine waking up and learning that everyone you knew was dead?  And to be taken in by the current king and queen because their son is your true love?  I can’t say I’m surprised by that, because I really wasn’t.  But I did like it, predictable as it was.

I know this book is a series, so we’ll learn a lot more about Aurora’s world in the next books.  We did get a pretty good picture of her life before the curse and also what happened during her 100 years of sleep.  But I just wasn’t as into it as I thought I would be.

I thought Aurora’s reaction to everything was pretty well done- she did seem confused and overwhelmed and not sure what to do.  I feel like I’d feel the same way if I were in her position, and I can see myself reacting the same way she did.  She constantly felt like she a prisoner- both before her birthday, and long after.  I really felt for her, because her life was decided for her, and no one bothered to ask her what she thought or how she felt.  Everything was decided for her because everyone knew better than she did.

There’s a lot she doesn’t know, of course, and she does need some sort of protection.  I don’t think she helped things by randomly wandering around in the middle of the night, but she also didn’t deserve to be locked up again.  I think a little more freedom (and explanation and including her in things) would have gone a long way.

I did like that her tale is well-known, and that she reads a book that is her story.  I’m not sure why I liked it, but when you’ve been sleeping for as long as she has, it does make sense that stories would be told.  And of course, the original story is far more gruesome than what we see here.  It should be interesting to see where things go, if I do decide to continue on with the series.  I don’t know that I’m interested enough to keep going.

The book does move pretty slow, and even though it took me a few days to finish it, it’s because of how short the book was.  I expected more action, and the action scenes we do have were boring.  I did want to see how things would turn out for Aurora, and what she’d do, but that was one of the very few things that kept me going.

2 stars.  A Wicked Thing was okay, and even though I like the idea of a Sleeping Beauty re-telling, this one didn’t work for me.

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Book Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Book: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Published February 2017 by HarperTeen|422 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

I liked Long May She Reign.  It’s a really cool combination of fantasy and mystery.  It’s strange, because it had the feel of a fantasy, but had a lot of mystery elements too.

I really like the idea of a girl becoming queen after the 22 people in line for the throne ahead of her die.  In that sense, it reminded me a lot of Designated Survivor.  But in a completely different, fantastical world.  On top of that, you have Freya trying to find out what happened to the king and many others at the party.

I also liked seeing Freya try to find her way as queen, and deal with her advisors, who want to deal with things differently than she does, and who make decisions on her behalf that maybe she doesn’t agree with.  She really wanted to do the right thing, and she really wanted to do things her way, and I really liked that about her. She was such a determined person, who was more interested in science and research until she had to step and become queen.

Still, as much as I liked Freya, and the premise of the book, it didn’t quite work for me.  It had a lot of potential, but it didn’t completely match the expectations I had going into the book.  I think part of it is because it’s a standalone, so there were times when it seemed like everything had to fit into a few pages.  But it also meant that not everything got the attention it should have.  Like the culture, and I felt like the Forgotten were never really explained.  I wonder, had the book had been at least two or three books, if the book and idea could have reached its potential.  Maybe not, and it’s possible that things could have felt more drawn out.

I was surprised that it was a stand-alone.  Then again, I’m always surprised when I stumble across a stand-alone fantasy.  I have mixed feelings about it, because on the one hand, I do wonder what the book what have been like if we had more time with Freya and this world.  At the same time, though, I don’t know that there’s enough for more books.  I think I’m just going to leave it there, because I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself.

3 stars.  I liked it, and it was a really interesting idea.  I particularly liked Freya, and the world seemed interesting enough.  But it also didn’t reach it’s full potential, and it seemed like something was missing.