ARC Review: Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1) by Bree Barton

a title here(9).jpg


In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magicβ€”the very magic she has sworn to destroy.


**** Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****

**** Trigger Warnings: Violence, Major Sexism, and Attempted Sexual Assault ****

This was pretty disappointing especially since it’s a fantasy witch book, I expected a bit more from it. I honestly don’t know how I made it through the entire thing, it was just kind of a mess. Hopefully my review won’t be too messy trying to explain it either.


First of all this is full of tropes and normally I can handle a trope if it’s done well but this was all over the place. All kinds of tropes! It’s like instead of an actual plot we just have a jumble of tropes! It felt like I was reading every other cliched YA fantasy book out there and in the end this one didn’t add anything new to the table and I felt it was predictable. We have a special snowflake/mary sue/ chosen one heroine out for revenge, a heroine who also has special/forbidden magical powers, and a heroine forced into an arranged marriage. Just to name a few and also explain the entire plot in a few lines.

I also felt the pacing wasn’t that even (more on the slow slide) and there wasn’t a ton of action or twists. Overall I do feel the writing holds promise since I was able to finish the book without forcing myself too much.

One thing I did enjoy about this story was the feminism, the world these characters live in is extremely misogynist with women being oppressed and men saying it’s “for their own good”. Of course our Mary Sue character, Mia, comes along to challenge this (which I liked) but I felt it once again wasn’t anything really new and I wish it would have been done better.

I also didn’t like how little world building there was, another trope of the cliched YA fantasy unfortunately. We are given several kingdoms and women with powers etc, is any of it ever explained though? Nope. This always bothers me because what fun is a fantasy if I can’t get caught up in a wonderful new world?

There was so much potential for this to be amazing with the feminist tone and women with witchy powers, but the execution fell flat. I feel like I should discuss the plot more but honestly, there just isn’t much to discuss. There’s nothing new or original here and I feel like I’d be wasting my time.


The characters weren’t all that interesting either, I wasn’t compelled by their plights or their personalities. Mia, is a special snowflake who also acts incredibly selfishly a lot of the time. Quin, the prince love interest, is pretty adorable but overall a bit bland at the same time. Those are really the only two characters even worth mentioning since every side character is brought up for several sentences and that’s it.

The villain was also so ridiculously….evil. And was anything ever explained? Not really. At least not in a manner that I felt was satisfying.

One thing about the characters I did like was the bit of diversity with the love interest being bisexual and another side character being gay.


The romance, like the story, is very predictable. However, since I really liked Quin I thought the romance was bearable.

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • Feminist plot
  • Diverse characters (LGTBQ+)
  • Writing was okay

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Execution of the plot fell short
  • So many tropes
  • Slower pacing
  • No actions or twists
  • Not enough world building
  • Very predictable
  • Characters were nothing special
  • Overall very cliched


Not a book I really recommend, unless you haven’t read that many YA fantasies before then go ahead you might enjoy it! However, I just feel if you’re a fan of YA fantasy that you’ve read this same story hundreds of times already. It just doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

Links: Goodreads / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Amazon

Follow Me Elsewhere: Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

The Sassy


20 thoughts on “ARC Review: Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1) by Bree Barton

  1. Kelly Brigid August 21, 2018 / 9:00 am

    Great review! I don’t think I’d be able to stomach all those tropes, so I’ll take a pass on this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MetalPhantasmReads August 21, 2018 / 1:19 pm

    Great review! I’ve been seeing many reviews that express the same things. I did get it in my Fairyloot box so we shall see…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek August 29, 2018 / 3:15 pm

      Thank you Amanda! I would say go into it with low expectations and you may be surprised! There really is potential in it as a series but those tropes, there were just way too many for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • MetalPhantasmReads August 30, 2018 / 3:07 pm

        Yeah that’s my plan. There’s been a ton of negative reviews so we shall see πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beware Of The Reader August 21, 2018 / 1:42 pm

    Well Heather that was exactly my thoughts. And I did not feel compelled by the characters either, my biggest problem!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek August 29, 2018 / 3:16 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one but also sad to hear you didn’t enjoy it either, reading a bad book is always a bummer. And I can always read a book with a bad plot if the characters are good but not the other way around, there just wasn’t anything all that intriguing in this one!


  4. Adrianna August 21, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    It sucks when a book is just full of predictability. The synopsis sounded so good and then ehhh. I just love your reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek August 29, 2018 / 3:19 pm

      I agree, it’s never fun! And I know it sounded so interesting, the potential is definitely there but all the tropes just really dragged it down. That’s so sweet, thank you for reading! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fawn & Fern Books August 21, 2018 / 6:06 pm

    I’m reading it right now and my review is going to be very similar πŸ˜“πŸ˜“ I wish this book has been a bit more thought out and deeper. I thought the most interesting part about Mia is that she had so much anatomy knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek August 29, 2018 / 3:30 pm

      Sorry you weren’t enjoying it either, that’s no fun! I agree, I really liked how knowledgeable she was but that quite literally never gets brought up again or utilized! What was the point of adding that if you weren’t going to use it in the story?! There was so much potential and I feel it just failed on execution, which is really unfortunate. Hopefully you’ll enjoy your next read more! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious August 22, 2018 / 4:55 pm

    Great review and I am sorry this one wasn’t for you. I almost requested an arc of this but was on the fence, I had a feeling I might not like it and it seems that it’s a good thing I went with my gut.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek August 29, 2018 / 3:33 pm

      I definitely think it was a good thing you went with your gut and saved yourself some precious reading time! I’ve been pretty bad about that lately, thinking “this sounds so good! Request!” and then later I start regretting one or two because they seem like they not be all that great. I really need to learn self control, haha! πŸ™‚


  7. hannah @ peanutbutter&books August 23, 2018 / 1:38 am

    lovely review, and I agree with so much of what you said! there were SO MANY TROPES, I honestly found myself skimming through most of the book. I genuinely didn’t find Mia Rose to be very unique or interesting in any way, and I occasionally felt like whacking her over the head with a stick because she was being so incredibly dense. imo, the ending was the best part! I love that it’s so open-ended, although I’m pretty sure a sequel is in the words. πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek August 29, 2018 / 3:38 pm

      Thank you! I admit to skimming parts as well because like you said Mia just wasn’t that great of a character. I actually think Quin could have made for a better main character! And I agree, the ending was one of the best parts and it has me curious about the sequel but I don’t know if I could do it, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hannah @ peanutbutter&books September 1, 2018 / 2:52 pm

        totally true! she just wanted strong or unique enough for me to truly empathize with her (and OMG yes, Quin would have been SUCH an interesting MC to read about!) I’ll probably still pick up the sequel to see how it all ties up but I’m honestly not in a rush. I’m a little disappointed that it has a sequel in the first place, that open-ended notes would have been perfect as a conclusion ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Lucy C September 5, 2018 / 6:51 am

    I got this book in a Fairyloot box so I think I will end up trying it out anyway but I’ll keep my expectations low πŸ™‚ I’m happy to find out the romance was actually one of the strengths of the book, I normally have such problems with the main romance in YA fantasy.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s