A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

Dark, gripping, and utterly unique, this atmospheric historical fantasy from critically acclaimed author Laura E. Weymouth is perfect for fans of The Hazel Wood and Caraval.

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh's magic kept both the countryside and Violet happy. 

That is, until her father's treason destroyed everything. 

Now she's been given a chance to return home. But Burleigh isn't what she remembered. Wild with grief, Burleigh's very soul is crying out in pain. As its tormented magic ravages the countryside, Vi must decide how far she's willing to go to save her house--before her house destroys everything she's ever known.

A house left unchecked will lead to ruin.

But I will not let it ruin me.

TITLE: A Treason of Thorns
AUTHOR: Laura E. Weymouth with Fiona Hardingham (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
YEAR: 2019
LENGTH: 368 pages (10 hours 29 minutes)
AGE: Young Adult
GENRE: Fantasy

Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.

Violet loves Burleigh House. Unabashedly, unreservedly, and to the point that she’s in a toxic/codependent relationship with Burleigh as it will take everything she has to give and hurt her in return. I kept waiting for it to do something for her, something beyond occasional flowers. Violet has to figure out whether she wants to live for more than Burleigh, if she can be more than a Caretaker. She's ready to give everything for it and it's waiting to take everything she'll offer.

The worldbuilding is more repetitive than it is deep. There's a lot of wordplay involving magical definitions to otherwise normal phrases, and little historical details (such as Pompeii having been a Great House before the disaster). It shows rather than tells most aspects of House magic, especially early on. I read this in a single day, due in no small part to the audiobook narrator’s excellent performance. She brought Violet to life and elevated repetitive sections into an absorbing litany. 

The eventual romance with Wyn doesn't precisely come out of nowhere, but he's drawn to her because they've been through something so fucked up that literally no one else he knows would understand, could feel it in their bones. That means the bond can feel very deep, as bonds of shared trauma often are, but if I try to outline exactly why they'd be good as a couple going forward I come up short. Wyn begins the story with no illusions about what Vi's connection to Burleigh means for her and her ability to prioritize anything else. 

For those who have read THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS, this feels like a more obsessive version of Evelyn's desire to return to the Woodlands. Except, I can believe the Woodlands love Ev, and I have trouble believing Burleigh loves Vi in a way that's healthy or has anything to do with her, specifically. If you read THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS and wanted there to be more longing and obsession, then you'll probably love A TREASON OF THORNS. If you didn't like that aspect, this doubles down in a way that likely won't be appealing.

Ultimately, this is a book which goes deep on a very specific atmosphere and stays in the head of a narrator whose obsession fills every moment. If you like that vibe there's a lot to love, but if you're having trouble getting into it there's no moment to push past in order to reach a different kind of story. I love it and don't wish it were anything else.

Graphic/Explicit CW for grief, terminal illness, parental death, death.

Moderate CW for alcohol, emotional abuse, physical abuse, gaslighting, toxic relationship, confinement, fire/fire injury, blood, violence, gun violence, injury detail, body horror, self harm.

Minor CW for sexual content, animal death

From the author's website: "A Treason of Thorns portrays characters dealing with anxiety, emotional and physical abuse (non-graphic) and gaslighting. It also contains mild body horror."

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A cluster of flowering thistles burst from faded blue and gold wallpaper, a small key dangles from the fronds


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