I received an ARC from the author in exchange for a review.
Synopsis: In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred. She betrayed her own. Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone. A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories
Published: December 7th, 2020
Length: 40 pages
My rating: 4/5
“I’ve got a secret…wouldn’t you like to know it?”
Brambles reveals the origin of princess Alyrra, and how she came to be reviled by her family and her court. What they consider to be betrayal, others consider an act of bravery and honesty. Life at court is perilous, full of secrets and schemes, and Alyrra doesn’t seem cut out for it, unlike her mother and brother. She will learn quickly that in Adania, all actions have consequences, and something as small as an act of integrity has the power to change the course of her future forever.
Consider me hooked! Right from the first sentence, Intisar Khanani had my attention, and she kept it the whole time I was reading. I went into this book blind, drawn in by the simple but pleasing cover. I didn’t realize until the last page that it was a short prequel to the main book, Thorn, which was released earlier this year.
Brambles is a succinct introduction to the kingdom of Adania, and provides a glimpse into young princess Alyrra’s life and the people that surround her. For a short story, the characters are well developed, and you can see Alyrra’s growth over the course of five chapters. I appreciate how the author lets the story flush out her characters as it develops. We get insight into the princess’s personality by her thoughts and actions, rather than a few simple descriptors thrown out at the beginning of the first chapter. I was impressed in the depth that Intisar Khanani was able to create in only 40 pages.
Brambles unfolds quickly and, while a bit predictable in its story arc, is a satisfying read that made me bond with Alyrra and feel disappointed when it ended all too soon. It left me wanting more, which is exactly what you want from a prequel. As soon as I was finished I added Thorn to my Reading List.
If you like Young Adult Fantasy and want to sample a new author without committing to a full novel, I recommend reading Brambles.