Tuesday, March 7, 2017

strictly literary: garden of thorns by amber mitchell

"everything he says sounds beautiful. like a dream. but i've learned far too many times that the most beautiful things are the most dangerous."

"dreams won't help me now."

reading garden of thorns totally confirmed my love for #epicfantasy. this was such a thrill to read. i was super excited to get my hands on a copy of it yesterday, and i immediately dropped everything and started reading. amber mitchell's debut introduces us to a world at war, where suffering and pain is common, where even the lightest entertainment has such a dark underbelly it's amazing that no one has bothered to look any deeper.

the garden is a traveling entertainment show, bringing beauty and delight to the people who are able to view it, but the cost of this entertainment is brutal. young girls are taken from their families and held in captivity. paired off from the start, one girl, the flower gets a new identity and is trained to perform; the other, the wilted, is also given a new identity but is destined to serve as the whip that keeps the flower in line. the wilted receive all the flower's punishments, an especially hideous kind of mental torture. the wilteds serve the flowers, they help them prep for the shows, they share their rooms and lives with them.

when rose's wilted, fern, is clipped--killed--rose knows that she needs to fulfill her last promise to her. she needs to escape the garden and save her sisters in captivity. she has no plan, only the chance to look for the right opportunity. one she gets at the performance the garden holds for delmar's spring festival. except her ideal hostage target is an enemy of delmar, rayce is the displaced heir to the throne and the leader of the zareeni rebel group.

immediately rose's plans are thwarted. and she is taken by the rebel group as they flee the chasing imperial soldiers. they don't trust her, she doesn't trust them. rose has more secrets than she is sharing, secrets that go beyond her life in the garden and extend to her childhood in varsha. her secrets explain what the gardener is doing with the emperor. and her secrets could be just what the rebellion needs in order to settle things with the emperor. in spite of this, rose is increasingly drawn to rayce. the more she sees of his leadership, of his kindness, his compassion, of the terrible choices he's had to make in the name of the rebellion. he's a man unlike any other she's ever known. and she worries that she's going to be another terrible choice he has to make in the rebellion's name.

but rayce is as drawn to rose as she is to him. the more he tries to deny it, the harder things get between them. and they already have enough hard stuff ahead of them. a dual mission to save the girls from the garden and to save the girl left behind when rose interfered with the previous plan to save her when she took rayce hostage. death is what they face if everything goes wrong. both rayce and rose can lose everything. and even as rose clings to her secrets, she has to wonder what she is holding on to. trusting rayce could set her free. she does trust him, she loves him. they were destined for one another before they ever knew of each other. they were always meant to heal their world together. and now they have to fight for that chance.

because in the end, trusting in each other will save them. and they go through the wringer to get the chance to prove that trust isn't unfounded. there's more battles to be fought, the zareeni cause has yet to prevail, but they stand a chance, especially if rayce and rose stand together.

"i am my own hope--and with this oath, i make my own light."

**garden of thorns published on monday, march 6, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review. 

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