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Review: Garden of Thorns

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Title:Garden of Thorns

Author:Amber Mitchell

Series: Standalone (but series potential!)

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

 

*Note:Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for approving me for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Synopsis

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for approving me for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Rose is a dancer/performer in the Garden, a group that kidnaps and forces young girls to perform while demanding their absolute compliance through the threat of physical punishment. When Rose finally gets the chance to escape she makes the mistake of choosing the rebel leader as her hostage. When she’s offered a deal to help free the other girls in the Garden in exchange for her help she takes it. Soon she finds herself taking part in their plans and finding it harder and harder to ignore her past–one she must keep secret unless the wrong people find out and use it against her.

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Favorite Characters

Rose is definitely a favorite because of her spirit. She has her moments where she freezes or doubts herself, but she never lets any of that keep her down. She finds her strength again, mostly by thinking about her “sisters” in the Garden, and pulls herself together. She gets stronger throughout the book and doesn’t let fear rule her life.

Rayce. Oh gosh, Rayce. He’s just adorable and I want to hug and love him because of how he’s always putting others before himself. He’s really the true leader that his people need. He knows the men and women serving under him and doesn’t just see them as numbers.

Really, there were so many other characters I really enjoyed in the book, but if I start putting another one I will end up wanting to put them all down, so I’m limiting myself to these two.

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Favorite Scenes

► I loved the concept for the Garden. Yes, it’s a terrible thing, but I like how much thought went into “how would we keep these girls under control”. There were different titles and names, all tied into the whole garden theme which I thoroughly enjoyed.

When the Gardener stuck us in the same cage, I assumed it was an act of kindness, so we wouldn’t wither under the weight of our capture. I didn’t know until later that allowing us to bond the first four years would be the cruelest trick. That he would twist that bond to keep both of us in line or else we would both end up hurt–her flesh a physical manifestation of the mental scars I bear.

► The Gardener was a pretty interesting character as well. I actually liked him–not because of his choices, but because of how well he was written. He even liked to use a fake accent to make himself seem more exotic for performances! And despite being terrible he’s pretty damn smart about how to get people to stay in line and inspire fear. He’s good at being terrible. I like him because he’s good at being terrible haha.

He’s as cruel as he is round. Both features grow daily.

► Rayce was a great leader not only because he knew how to make great plans but because he never made a decision without really thinking through the consequences. He didn’t see his soldiers as numbers, but as people with their own dreams, needs, and families.

“Because they gave their lives under my orders. Hearing it from t he person responsible is the least their families deserve.

► And because he’s willing to do what he needs to in order to show Rose that she can trust him. He sees she’s been hurt and doesn’t push her.

“I’m sorry about what happened to you in the past, but I will prove you wrong now. I’m going to make you believe in me, not because I want you to, but because that’s what you need.”

► Another factor that I loved beside the characters and plot was the writing itself. Mitchell was great at creating all these metaphors and painting abstract emotions as … just beautiful images that we can enjoy and somehow understand.

We’re all strung tight like strings on a lyre, humming the notes of our sadness, our rage, our exhaustion, and our elation into the air.

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Review

This book was a really great read. I know it’s supposed to be a “standalone” but the author has said that there is room for a sequel and I really hope there is. One of the issues that I had with this book was actually how sad I was that it ended, but I’ll get to that later.

I found the concept of the Garden to be well-thought out and, frankly, really interesting. They basically have you bond with someone because they’re the only person who will ever be kind to you, and then they use that person against you. Now, every time you make a mistake or don’t do what you’re told that person pays for your mistakes with physical punishment. Each girl is renamed after a flower to fit with the whole theme of the performance. Then you have the actual enforcer and executioner, Shears, who is a madman who takes pleasure in maiming and killing others. The Gardener was interesting as well because–well, he designed the whole thing. He took on this whole persona for it with a fake accent, but really he was just as twisted as Shears.

The Rebellion was also full of interesting characters from the leader, Rayce, who saw it was his job to know every single one of the people under his command, to Marin who becomes Rose’s new sister and helps her get through the adjustment of living with the rebels. I liked the pacing of the story and how Rose slowly evolved into someone who could see a bigger picture without ever really letting go of who she was. Yes, she wanted to help the rebellion but she wasn’t going to sacrifice her flower sisters in the process.

Being with this few family she formed really helped her see that not all people were terrible. Once Rose started shedding that thought process and confronted her past she became a strong, confident force to be reckoned with. Although her past was something I saw coming (and it was hinted at pretty strongly), I still enjoyed the story. I liked the way Rayce accepted it and there was no drama between them over it (for now *really hopes for sequel*). That was what was really unexpected and a pleasant surprise.

As for the ending: it was just so neat and tidy. I wanted things to go on longer. I really felt that it was anticlimactic to have one of the biggest obstacles be taken care of at the end of the book. I felt like it would’ve felt like more a payoff if it had happened later in another book, but I do understand why it happened. And I’m really hoping that this book has a sequel because there is still plenty to work with. I would love to see these characters come back and find out what happens to the fate of the two countries. I really recommend this book if you’re looking for your next fun read.

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