BRAMBLES by Intisar Khanani

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.


Title : Brambles
Author : Initisar Khanani
Series : Dauntless Path #0.5
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 40
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : December 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Brambles is a prequel novella to the full length and wonderful Thorn (you can see my review here). This story finds Alyrra quite a bit younger and back in time in her original lands. This really is a brief origin story about why Alyrra found herself on the end of Valka’s wrath and how the plot for Thorn eventually unravels.

I hated Alyrra’s brother and Valka in Thorn so this wasn’t the nicest company to be keeping in this novella. These two were bullies in Alyrra’s life, manipulating and controlling. Alyrra’s mother wasn’t much better either. I always hated that Alyrra didn’t have any allies at the beginning of Thorn and this is what we see in Brambles. BUT this was still a very engaging world to be in. Reading about villians can still be fulfilling!

The world created in this series is intruiging, pretty fresh and as a collective, I’ll alwaysbe happy to read in this world. If you aren’t aware, the second book in the series The Theft of Sunlight is coming in March 2021 and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Whilst Brambles is not essential reading to the series, it’s a welcome snippet and insight into the grand story.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

THORN by Intisar Khanani

Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future. But powerful men have powerful enemies – and now, so does Alyrra.

Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realise, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.

Inspired by The Goose Girl fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.


Title : Thorn
Author : Intisar Khanani
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count :
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : March 24, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4-4.5 star review

THORN by Intisar Khanani has actually been on my radar for a number of years, previously released as an indie book but has now very rightfully found publishers in the UK and US. I’m really glad I waited as this is Thorn’s moment and just look at that gorgeous cover.

This is a loose retelling of the Brother Grimm’s goose girl, which I didn’t recall but being a lesser-known tale, the storyline was all good and unexpected things. It is a story construted around royalty and magic but it very much moves into the world of the ordinary and I loved that element of the context so much. Thorn had a number of identities but essentially who she was at the core was the kind of quiet heroine you could only feel connected to. Her integrity made me love her; she felt very real in her plain life and royal connections.

Thorn’s family were vile, no beating around the bush here. Thorn was scarred in a number of ways; this particular narrative was addressed sensitively. I liked how she worked through some issues as she adapted to life outside of her family. Thorn also acquired some unconventional friendships with a horse, the wind, thieves and street kids. This tale was just full of richness.

Kestrin, was a prince amongst other things and he grew on me. The story travelled from one world to another and magic forces were at work on the way. This wasn’t an all-consuming romance but a tentative friendship and the potential promise of something more with roots. I appreciated the subtlety of the relationship between these two and I would love to read more in what seems to be a series.

Intisar Khanani’s writing was inviting and her ability to tell a story was full of richness and depth. This is a great YA fantasy that could standalone as it is but it also looks like there is more to come and I am cheering for that.

Thank you to Hot Key books for the early review copy.