Title: Juniper & Thorn
Author: Ava Reid
Genre: Fantasy/Dark Fairytale
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: 21st June 2022
A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.
As the last true witches living in a city shifting from magic to industry, Marlinchen and her two sisters are little more than tourist traps as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate their tyrannical, xenophobic wizard father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. While at night, she and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theatre, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.
But as Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while the city flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.
I’m a huge fan of Grimm’s Fairytales and love reading twists on those often surprisingly dark stories. The Juniper Tree, which Juniper & Thorn is loosely based on, is one of the most sinister in the Grimm repertoire in terms of themes and imagery. Juniper & Thorn takes the chilling source work and runs with it, in an unnerving and intensely macabre novel which unfolds like an otherworldly nightmare.
I found Juniper & Thorn completely enthralling, it drew me into its frightening clutches and wouldn’t let go. It does contain some very dark content so I would recommend perhaps checking the content warnings before reading if you think it may be triggering. Whilst it does go to some vivid and gruesome places there is also a sense of hope and a sensitivity concerning Marlinchen, the beaten down and cowed main character. I loved her journey as she attempts to find a future for herself despite the trauma of her situation. Juniper & Thorn is written with an elegance that suits the magical yet dangerous world these characters inhabit and it demonstrates the terrible suffering caused by prejudice and a desire for ultimate control over others. It is a menacingly beautiful book that doesn’t hold back. Highly recommended.
Thank you Laura and Del Rey for the invite onto the blog tour and the gorgeous copy of the book. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
Buy the book: