”One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever.
When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself . . .
The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning.”
Thoughts: One cannot discuss The Thorn and the Blossom and not discuss the book’s format. Reading it takes some adjustments, as without a traditional spine, it is all too easy to let the book open up completely, exposing all of its accordion pages. Once a reader gets the hang of holding the book and reading it, the format itself disappears, allowing the reader to focus on the story itself.
Reading such a two-sided novel is especially appealing to readers who always wondered what other characters were thinking or feeling. Ms. Goss takes that guesswork away from readers but does so in such a way that readers will not be disappointed. Certain scenes from Evelyn’s perspective suddenly make more sense when seen through Brendan’s eyes and vice versa. This is especially important given how short each story is. Only so much can be stated within 41 pages, so Evelyn’s and Brendan’s individual stories help fill the gaps that by necessity are left due to their story’s brevity.
That being said, one cannot help but wish that the individual stories were longer. Ms. Goss’ ability to draw pictures with words is marvelous, and her descriptions are absolutely luscious. There is so much potential within either character’s world that it seems an absolute tragedy to have the individual stories abbreviated to such an extent. The gaps in time and the lack of fully-fleshed characters do the story itself a disservice, although the fact that a reader feels this lack so keenly is a testament to just how effective the story is given its current constraints.
The Thorn and the Blossom is a creatively-presented story that packs quite a punch within its few pages. Evelyn and Brendan are extremely likable and sympathetic, and their struggles to find happiness touch a reader’s heart with surprising swiftness. The two stories balance each other perfectly and make it the type of novel that one can read and re-read in order to catch every nuance, hint, and explanation that rounds out the story in its entirety. While the story itself could certainly be told in a more traditional format, bouncing between perspectives, the accordion pages make The Thorn and the Blossom a fun and effective alternative.
Acknowledgments: Thank you to Eric Smith from Quirk Books for my review copy!