After reading Anna Burke’s lesbian spin on the tale of Robin Hood, I decided to tackle her lesbian spin on Beauty and the Beast, Thorn.

In the interest of fairness, I’ll mention what worked: much of the description of the natural realm and of winter was wonderfully transporting, especially since I read most of the book resting by a fire during an uncommonly cold spell earlier this month; and I found the world-building, which rested on a lot of European fairy tale tropes, well-executed.

Now for the bits that fell flat for me: I wasn’t enchanted by the romance! I found the beginning of the novel slightly better constructed, the book felt wonderfully tense for the beginning. But by the last quarter of the book, I just wasn’t as emotionally invested in the primary romance as was necessary for the book to work.

There was a kernel of something in Thorn that I thought had tremendous potential — for whatever reason, its potential failed to bloom within my own heart, but I’m willing to try reading more of Burke in the future and, thankfully, my admiration for Nottingham is not in any way lessened by that sadly unsatisfying readerly experience!

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