Violet Made of Thorns – Gina Chen – ARC Review

Title: Violet Made of Thorns
Series: Violet Made of Thorns #1
: Gina Chen
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: July 26th, 2022 (Delacorte Press)

Synopsis: Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased – and not always true – divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer – unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom – all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom – or doom them all.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Violet is the Royal Seer of the kingdom of Auveny and she uses her ability to see the threads of Fate to divine the future – and also people’s pasts – to make predictions, and occasionally less than truthful or twisted prophecies that allow her to influence the court. But when the King asks her to prophesy Prince Cyrus’ future, a suitable love story that will convince the prince to pick a bride and head off a dreadful prophecy hanging over his head and the well being of the kingdom. Except Violet and Cyrus kind of hate each other and she may have lied in her last foretelling about him finding his true love. Violet accidentally awakens a curse that could mean the end of the kingdom if Cyrus makes the wrong choice, but she faces a choice of her own that could have equally deadly consequences.

Comparing a book to Serpent & Dove and The Cruel Prince (though I haven’t read the latter), certainly sets the expectations quite high for it. Violet Made of Thorns has a very classic fairytale feel to it with all the key elements of one – a prince with a dire prophecy surrounding him, magic, fairies, a cursed magical wood and more, with an enemies to lovers romance to boot – all incidentally some of my favorite things to see in fantasy novels. The world-building was quite good. It didn’t expand too much on the various kingdoms themselves, but provided enough insight into the magic and politics that it made it easy to follow along right from the beginning.

Reading this story from Violet’s perspective was both intriguing and entertaining. She is certainly not the typical YA heroine and it’s clear right from the beginning that she is always looking out for only her best interests which was such a fun change of pace. I loved the enemies to lovers dynamic and the banter between Cyrus and Violet was so well written. It wasn’t the best example of the trope I’ve come across but it was really good, not to mention, it was balanced with the rest of the plot and didn’t take over the story entirely.

The main problem I had with this book was the pacing. It dragged a little initially but that was easy to overlook because the story was engaging enough, but towards the end it sped up way too much, as though trying to cram everything in. This particularly applied to the romance which progressing at an even pace up to that point, but I didn’t like how rushed it became in the final quarter of the book.

Overall, while this doesn’t really compare to Serpent & Dove, it was a pretty interesting read and I enjoyed it. I’m curious to see where the story will go in the sequel, especially after the story that Cyrus and Violet plan to spin to salvage the situation. I’m not sure if this is going to be a duology or longer yet, but this book has done a very good job of setting up the world, characters and plot that could easily extend to more books. I would definitely recommend this book for fans of fantasy novels as well as fairytale retellings!

Violet Made of Thorns releases on July 26th, 2022.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.

Other reviews in this series:

7 thoughts on “Violet Made of Thorns – Gina Chen – ARC Review

  1. Molly | Transatlantic Notes July 20, 2022 / 11:28 am

    I think I would probably give this ago; it’s not a genre I’ve read much in at all so the pacing may not be such an issue as I’ll probably need to slowly get into it. Thanks for the review; it’s great to find out about something I may not have picked out at first.

    Liked by 1 person

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