Rose And Thorn | Thoughts
This is a cute story, though the issues I had with the first book are more prominent here. It took me a while to read only because I went through a huge reading slump and I kept putting it down. But if not for that, it actually was a fast read when I finally got my groove back. The characters were all connected to those we knew in Ash & Bramble, though the connections were not immediately obvious, and there were a few twists that surprised me, which is always nice. There was also an examination of the idea of beauty; it didn't go further than raise the old "beauty is only skin deep" question, but as our main character, Rose, was unaware she looked different until she left the cottage she grew up in, we see her growth as she learns just what it means to be unnaturally beautiful when many will see only the surface and care nothing for what is underneath.
"What was beauty, exactly? A sum of parts? A whole greater than that? Other people valued beauty, or wanted it, but it set me apart, too, made me different. It might not be an entirely good thing."
As for the issues I mentioned, there seems to be no set pace, and the plot feels more like stumbling along a rocky path than riding smoothly. There were several big grammatical issues, including incorrect tense and verb usage, which as an editor I cannot look past. And finally, while I love the idea of a great power behind all the stories we know, an evil power that gains strength by eliminating free will and forcing the "happily-ever-after" outcomes it desires, once again it is not laid out very eloquently. Sometimes, just stating the facts is necessary and getting to the point is a lot better than fluff-writing. But writing still needs that creativity, and much of the explanations of what is going on in this world is just spit out without any organization or creative building. It gets the message across, yes, but in a less than graceful manner. Kind of like, as I said before, stumbling to a destination instead of walking confidently.
While I liked the characters of Rose And Thorn, I was more connected to those in Ash And Bramble, and felt their convictions were more believable. When Pin knew nothing of her Before and could not remember what her life had been, she knew herself, knew what kind of person she was without needing to know her name or title or occupation. I believed in her solid belief of self, and enjoyed the examination of human nature and free will. Rose And Thorn seems to just piggy-back on some of that strength.
"Her every move graceful, the girl in the mirror reached down and raised her skirts just enough to see the toe of a scuffed brown boot, incongruous amid the lace and finery. The girl smiled just a little. It was a small triumph, really. But the boots reminded her that she was not just the beauty. She had her own weapons. She was not just Story's construct. She was more than that."
I did enjoy the ending of Rose much better than Ash, though that could easily be my need for closure and to see a story end. The series could definitely continue, though instead of following the same pattern of picking up years in the future with a new "story," I think I'd rather follow these characters some more and see them figure out their new existences with what they now know.