ARC Review: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

I hope everyone had a good weekend! Today I have an advanced reading copy (ARC) review of THORNHEDGE by T. Kingfisher. This is a retelling of the classic western fairytale, The Sleeping Beauty. Only this isn’t from the princess’s point of view, but from that of the often-maligned fairy of the story.

Author: T. Kingfisher
Series: None
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Tor
Publish Date: August 15, 2023
Print Length: 128

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Official Synopsis

From USA Today bestselling author T. Kingfisher, Thornhedge is the tale of a kind-hearted, toad-shaped heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone completely sideways.

There’s a princess trapped in a tower. This isn’t her story.

Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?

But nothing with fairies is ever simple.

Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He’s heard there’s a curse here that needs breaking, but it’s a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…

My Review

I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

THORNHEDGE is a delightfully subversive retelling of The Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of the maligned fairy in the story as we know it today. In THORNHEDGE we know her as Toadling. This version of a classic western fairytale focuses on how Toadling came to have responsibility for the princess trapped in a tower.

I really enjoyed reading this retelling because the world we see is quite unlike that of the animated Disney movie. This book didn’t have a profound impact on me (which is fine, not all books need to!), but I enjoyed it for what it is, a fairytale hug. It has a distinct hesitant and reminiscent yet slightly ethereal vibe to it. The story flits between Toadling’s past time spent in faerieland and her present time as guardian of the tower. As the synopsis states, Toadling was stolen from her human family. Brought up instead by fairies, we get to see the lifestyles of a certain sect of them, which I found very interesting.

The portrayal of the knight was a departure from their classical presentation in western tales of old with respect to both personality and race. Since this is a novella, I won’t get into too much detail lest this review becomes too spoiler-y. But the knight is Muslim and has a gentle and inquisitive disposition, which makes for a nice set up for Toadling to tell her story. One of my favorite parts of Toadling’s tale is her revelation about how she was taught to see beauty in the fairy realm versus how humans define beauty. That is, beauty is the sum of the good qualities of a fairy rather than their appearance.

Overall, THORNHEDGE is a fascinating backstory that further drives the point that not everything is as simple as it might seem.

Rating: 4
Content warnings: death, blood
Reading format: Kindle e-book

10 thoughts on “ARC Review: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

  1. The discussion around beauty in this one does sound quite fantastic and intriguing! I really want to try a book by this author sooner rather than later hahah Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. That was my thought about this author–I keep seeing her books floating around on my Twitter timeline, and when I saw many of them are on the shorter side I decided to request her next book on NG. I’m glad I did! Their lengths make them a great palate cleanser, so to speak, between longer books.

    1. Yes, you should! This is the first book of hers that I’ve read and now I want to read her backlist.

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