A Treason of Thorns: A Unique Historical Fantasy About a Sentient House

4/5 Stars

Author: Laura E. Weymouth

Publisher/Imprint: HarperTeen

Edition: Paperback ARC, 342 Pages

Hardcover Publication Date: September 10, 2019

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well

*This review is based on a paperback ARC edition provided by the author. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*

A good Caretaker puts her House first. Before king. Before country. Before family.

Violet Sterling, A Treason of Thorns

Initial Thoughts

Wow! Laura E. Weymouth has come up with such a unique concept for a book! I’ve never read anything quite like A Treason of Thorns. Our main girl, Violet Sterling, desires to be the Caretaker of Burleigh House, a magic house living in historical England. The kings of history have magically “bound” Burleigh House and other magic houses to themselves in order to accumulate power; these six “Great Houses” have the ability to govern the well-being and prosperity of England’s land using House Magic. Violet is desperate to unbind Burleigh House because it is dying.

I appreciated several other aspects of the novel as well:

  • The themes of bondage versus freedom and discovering who oneself is meant to be are strong themes throughout the novel.
  • A sweet romance between Vi and a childhood friend arises. (More on that later.)
  • At first, it did take me a little while to understand the rules governing Burleigh House and its magic. But it is a really unique and fascinating magic system if you give it some time. It affects one of the characters in a very interesting way due to another type of magic “bond.”
  • I liked the historical setting, and I enjoyed the slight twists that the author created for some historical figures.
  • There are some lovely sentences sprinkled throughout the novel. Check out the ones I’ve quoted!

‘This place does not deserve your loyalty or your blood or your tears. It is a monster bent on nothing but its own survival, and every pretty trick, every fire lit for you, every flower blooming at your feet, is nothing but a ploy to win your affection.’

Wyn, A Treason of Thorns

Characters & Romance

Here is a brief overview of the characters and romance:

  • Treason of Thorns NatureViolet (Vi) Sterling longs to be the Caretaker of Burleigh House, as her father was before her. After he father is accused of treason, she is sent away. But she returns years later to try to nurse Burleigh House back to health. For much of the story, Burleigh is all she can think of.
  • Burleigh House is, in my opinion, a character! It lives, breathes, and communicates its feelings to Violet. It doesn’t trust most humans, and it is on the path to destruction if Violet cannot save it. It is also very moody at times.
  • Wyn is Violet’s childhood friend. He is fiercely protective of Violet and always puts her first before anything else. He tries to help her fix up Burleigh.
  • The romance is sweet. I wasn’t completely swooning over it, but it is definitely sweet. Wyn certainly demonstrates his affection for Violet. I think the reason I wasn’t entirely caught up in the romance is due to the nature of how Violet and Wyn meet. They are pretty much forced into a friendship, and even though their feelings for each other do not feel forced by the end, the fact remains that Wyn was forced into a certain situation for Violet’s sake – without really having a say in the matter. It makes things complicated between them, for sure. But don’t get me wrong; I did enjoy reading about them together. If you like sweet romances, you’ll probably love this one!

Touching him feels uncommonly like magic – not the cold bite of mortar but a lush, living magic. A magic of our own making, that is full of beginnings, and possibility.

Violet Sterling, A Treason of Thorns

Novel Conflicts & Final Thoughts (Possible Minor Spoilers Ahead)

While I enjoyed many aspects of this novel, a few critique-worthy elements stood out to me as well.

Violet’s inner conflict regarding devotion to Burleigh versus to someone else is definitely a good conflict. However, there are a few other story points I feel could’ve added even more to the conflict, but they sort of went away. For one thing, I think Lord Falmouth could’ve played a larger role in the story than he did. He was menacing, and that added a lot to the story in the places where he did appear. Furthermore, the king briefly threatens Violet with an arranged marriage, but that proposal is quickly taken off the table. I think it definitely could’ve added more to the conflict. In addition, near the end of the novel, the charges against Violet are quickly issued, but quickly dropped as well. Essentially, Violet has plenty of inner conflict with the House, but I think I was looking for more human conflict, too. There is human conflict in the very end, but I wish there had been more throughout.

Another element is the flashback technique combined with the present tense POV. Large portions of the story are told through flashbacks. This can be both an interesting and a tricky technique to use in a novel. On one hand, these flashbacks do help provide insight into Violet’s family history, as well as clues for what she seeks. On the other hand, I often felt that the flashbacks hindered forward movement in the present-day timeline of the novel due to their frequency. I also think that the transition into the first flashback could’ve been smoother. Part of the reason the flashbacks threw me off slightly has to do with the present tense POV. Violet narrates the novel in present tense, including most of the flashbacks. I think I had difficulty wrapping my mind around something happening in the past, but being told in the present tense. I hope that makes sense.

Violet’s use of two different names for Princess Esperanza also stood out to me. Sometimes, she refers to the princess as “Esperanza,” other times as “Espie.” “Espie” sounds like a term of endearment to be used by a dear old friend, which Violet is not. Esperanza’s lover calls her “Espie,” which makes more sense. So the inconsistency between “Espie”/”Esperanza” from Violet’s POV threw me off sometimes.

Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a lot. As a reviewer, I have to be honest and give my full opinions. No book is 100% perfect. But I’m giving 4 stars to A Treason of Thorns! Despite my few critiques, it is quite unique, and I would definitely recommend checking it out on September 10th if you want to find out more about this magic house! Happy reading πŸ™‚

*Content Warnings: Very mild as far as content goes. Some kissing, threats, some violence near the end, and a scene in which a man assaults a woman (but nothing sexual).*

Next on My TBR: The Grace Year (NetGalley ARC)

Screen Shot 2019-09-06 at 11.45.54 AM

Spines that Shine

8 thoughts on “A Treason of Thorns: A Unique Historical Fantasy About a Sentient House”

  1. Great review (I did skip reading the conclusion due to the spoiler warning but what I read was fantastic). The quotes are so beautiful and the magic system sounds amazing. I love that even the house feels like a character. I’ll definitely have to check this out soon. I also hope you end up enjoying Grace Year; I’m waiting for that one to come out.

    Liked by 1 person

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