The Thorn Queen by Elise Holland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
DNF @ 30%
For the first couple chapters of The Thorn Queen I was starting to wonder if I was hitting a reading slump. I was also having a bit of trouble focusing and caring about another book I was reading. So I added a third book to the mix that was lovely, powered through it and two more. That made me realize that it wasn't me it was Elise Holland's story that was the problem.
Don't tell, show
While this is a middle grade level read there is really no reason why it would have to be dull and boring. I feel like we are all broken records when it comes to this saying but it is sooo important when it comes to writing a great story; show, don't tell. If you are telling me what the landscape is in half page paragraphs then you are likely doing it wrong. Unless you have descriptions that are flowery and beautiful, like Tolkien or Sanderson in high fantasy write, it's likely that readers will yawn and skip the content. This becomes a problem as then people aren't really engrossed in your world. The easiest way to show and not tell descriptions of the landscape is to give us the feelings and description via a character's perspective. Whether they are talking to someone else about what they see or from a first person perspective.
Taking into account that the average fantasy set novel for children is in a traditional quest form; I have no issues with the proposed plot that Holland puts forward. However, the very first scene of The Thorn Queen is so different and engaging (in which our lead gal falls on a prince) that to suddenly change the story over to a quest that doesn't include said prince, or the world in which we first meet our lead gal, made the events that follow dull. I did really like the introductory scene and was excited for those first 10 pages; but unfortunately that tapers off. Especially when I realized we were going on a quest and not going to encounter the prince again for some time (at best). When setting up a quest story you have to be careful not to oversell the reason and then drop your characters into a boring journey. The exception to the rule is if you are carrying a ring to Mordor (lol); but even in The Lord of the Rings we have the Mines quickly after council showing that this will not be a boring quest for our fellowship.
It's possible had I given this book a little more time I might have gotten into it; but given that each time I picked it up I got a couple pages and wanted to switch books it just doesn't seem worth it. I can honestly say that I hope children don't receive this book as their first introduction to fantasy as they will likely be turned off by it and that would be tragic!
To read this and more of my reviews visit my blog at Epic Reading
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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