Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell
After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn't one of the emperor's men—not anymore. He's the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.
Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose's attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her ashis hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she'll tell him all the Garden's secrets.
Except the one secret she's kept for seven years that she'll to take to her grave if she must.
For the past ten years, "Rose", now sixteen, has spent her life enslaved in a burlesque troupe called The Garden, forced to perform and known only by a name that is not hers. Only the cruel leader of The Garden, the Gardener, knows who she really is and holds it over her to keep her in line.
When Fern, the girl that she's grown up with, the wilted to her flower, is murdered right in front of her by the Gardener's right-hand man, Shears for conversing with a member of the rebellion Rose knows she has to escape.
But when the man she uses to escape during her performance turns out to be the young leader of the rebellion she trades one captor for another. Can Rose convince him that she's not an assassin sent to kill him? How will she be able to return to The Garden to free her still captured "sisters?"
As Rose finds herself aligning with the rebel Zareen, making friends with their members, and falling for Rayce, the rebellion's young leader who's mood runs hot and cold Rose will grow more involved in the cause and learn more about the fall of her homeland, Varsha - and about herself. But can she really trust Rayce and the rebellion? Or would they turn on her when they found out her identity too?
Garden of Thorns is a tense, fast-paced fantasy that incorporates unique ideas like a enslaved burlesque troupe and familiar themes like a lost, forgotten princess and a disgraced prince leading a rebellion to save a kingdom.
The book reminded me in ways of the Throne of Glass series, Rebel of the Sands, and in a strange way - Water for Elephants. Rose had a little bit of a "Caelena Sardothian" in her, but definitely a feistiness that was all her own.
I loved the supporting characters: Marin, Arlo, and Oren and felt they really fit with the rebellion. Rayce was a perfect rebellion leader and love interest for Rose and his hot and cold temperament showed his struggle between helping his people and giving in to what he wanted - Rose.
As for the world-building, oftentimes in Fantasy novels, I try to compare the kingdoms to countries of our world. Delmar reminded me of a fantasy version of China and Varsha maybe could be compared to Russia; especially with Rose, who would, in a way, be like Anastasia - the lost and presumed dead princess.
The only thing that annoyed me a bit was Rose's lack of trust toward Rayce and the Zareen toward the end of the book. I kept waiting for her to admit her secret to Rayce and yet she chose to run, again, which caused the unnecessary deaths of a lot of people - one in particular who had treated her with respect and like family. Hadn't the Zareen, by that point, proven that they looked out for her like she had been one of their own all along?
Overall, I really enjoyed Garden of Thorns and am eager to see if this is continued as a series, it has great potential for a continuation.
4.75 of 5 Stars!
Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell is available today, March 6, 2017, in paperback and eBook from Entangled Teen! Grab your copy now: