I have to start with this actual physical book. If you read my blog, you might be aware that I don't accept books for review. Reading on a schedule was starting to feel like work, so I decided to just say no to free books and read what I want when I want. It works better for me. I still get the occasional pitch and I will glance through them but I ultimately move on.
The pitch I got for The Thorn and the Blossom was different. "As for the unique format, The Thorn and the Blossom intertwines Evelyn’s and Brendan’s stories in an accordion-fold binding so that readers can choose whose perspective to read first, his or hers. Either way, the other will bring a surprise."
I couldn't picture it. Luckily, a link to the book trailer was included for me. I was curious; I had to watch. Then I knew I had to have this book. Go ahead. Watch it. I'll wait.
I got it in the mail, ripped it open, and fell in love. It is just a gorgeous book. There are a few illustrations and I loved those. The covers (Evelyn's, Brendan's, and the box that holds the book together) are well-matched and elegant. It's a smaller "hardcover" and I am drawn to those. I like the way they fit in my hands.
When I started reading, it did take a little while for me to get used to the format. I am a one-handed reader, and I tend to read while eating or drinking, or just keeping one hand warm under the blankets. That was a bit of a problem. This is definitely more of a two-handed book. When I forgot and held it at the middle with one hand, I could feel one side or the other wanting to go flopping over. As long as I remembered to hold it with two hands, it handled basically like a regular book.
My friend Julie was possibly even more excited than I was when I showed her this book trailer. She almost pre-ordered it right there, but she decided to use her gift card for more immediate gratification. When I received my copy, I told her that it was fairly short at 39 pages on each side. "Well, I'm glad I didn't pre-order it then. Something that short isn't worth the price of a novel." But then.
Oh, but then. I remembered to take it in to work so she could actually experience it herself. After much oohing, aahing, and petting, she finally managed to get out, "I should have ordered it when I had the gift card." So there you have it. It is worth the cost.
That should have sold you, but I'll go ahead and tell you about the story itself.
I've come across author Theodora Goss before, when I read her short story, "The Princess and the Hound of the Moon" and loved it. She's been on my radar ever since, but I haven't actually read any more of her work. When I saw this beautiful, unique book was written by an author whose work I had enjoyed, I knew this had to be a win.
My expectations for the story may have been a little too high. I'm not saying that there was anything wrong with it at all. I really liked it. I was hoping to be blown away, but that didn't happen.
I read Evelyn's story first. I was a little disappointed at the end. That was it? I wanted to know more! I was rooting for these star-crossed lovers. I needed to know what happened next. Then it dawned on me. Oh, wait. There is more. So I flipped to the other side and read Brendan's story.
The concept was familiar to me. I kept thinking of Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, a book that did blow me away. A short story, where there just couldn't be the same level of detail and involvement with the characters, suffered a little in comparison with a novel.
But just a little. I do enjoy short stories, and I've learned to enjoy chewing over the ones that aren't neatly wrapped up. For a book with two stories of 39 pages each, I got pretty involved with the characters, and even got a gigantic surprise or three. It's hard to pull that off in a short story.
Reading the same story from two different perspectives definitely enriched the experience for me. However, reading them both back to back got a little repetitive. I found myself skipping chunks of dialog in Brendan's story that I had just read in Evelyn's story. I don't think there was a way around this from a writing/editing standpoint, but if you're reading, I would recommend trying to wait a day or two in between the stories.
Highly recommended, primarily because of the unique format of the book, but also for an enjoyable story of star-crossed lovers.
Find author Thedora Goss on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
Buy The Thorn and the Blossom at
Malaprop’s | Better World Books
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.