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A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

As the last true witches living in a city shifting from magic to industry, Marlinchen and her two sisters are little more than tourist traps as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate their tyrannical, xenophobic wizard father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. While at night, she and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theatre, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

But as Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while the city flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.

Title : Juniper and Thorn
Author : Ava Reid
Format : Physical
Page Count : 320
Genre : Fantasy/Horror
Publisher : DelRey UK
Release Date : June 21, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5

Micky’s 4.5 star review

Sinister family
Enchanted garden
Gore and abuse

Juniper & Thorn was the kind of read that felt like a Grimm fairytale, dark, sinister and twisty. Set on the edge of the Steppes, in a growing city with affluence and poverty alike, this story centred on the Vashchenko family, a wizard father and three daughters with magical powers. Marlinchen was the youngest daugter, the protagonist of the story and she had a rather miserable existence.

This family…oh my, what a complete mess of impaired connection, built on resentment, guilt, grief and greed. What do you do when your family puts you at risk? It took a lot for Marlinchen to have her eyes opened and this story was her journey. Please check the content warnings below.

I never knew what was around the corner in this book but despite the dark and desperate themes, it was soaked in hope for Marlinchen and her friend Sevas. The story brought sneak attacks of gore, abuse, mild horror (but I could cope with it) and you need a strong stomach in certain moments. It evoked such a sinister atmosphere.

One of the things that was fascinating about this book was the curious creatures that populated the Vashchenko estate. You never got the full view of them but they added to the creepy feel.

Ava Reid has sealed her talent with Juniper & Thorn. I’m a fan of her imagination, writing and characterisation.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the review copy.

CW: abuse, sexual abuse, grooming

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