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Reviewed by:
Barton, Bree Heart of Thorns. Tegen/HarperCollins, 2018 [464p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-244768-5 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-244770-8 $8.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7–10

When Mia’s father arranges her betrothal to the royal heir, Mia is furious: she was supposed to hunt down the magical Gwyrach who killed her mother, not prance around in gowns at gaudy balls with Prince Quin. An attempt on Quin’s life, however, has Mia fleeing the palace with him in tow; when she unintentionally heals him, Mia comes to the dreaded realization that she has magic, a thing strictly forbidden in her kingdom. As she learns more about her abilities, she realizes that the Gwyrach are not the monsters they’ve been made to seem and that the factors that led to her mother’s murder are more complicated than she could have imagined. Barton presents an intriguing setup: while not all women have magic, all Gwyrach are women, so the patriarchal kingdom finds legitimate cause to monitor and control the gender its rulers see as unfit. Unfortunately, infodumps of world building compete for page space with the dialogue and action, leading to an unevenly paced plot that is both overstuffed and unsatisfying. Mia’s contemplations on gender equity and the ways in which even she has participated in the judgment and oppression of her sister and friends may nonetheless interest thoughtful fantasy fans. [End Page 417]

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