#SPFBO Review : Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley

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The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.

You can find my updates for batch 1batch 2batch 3, Batch 4 and Batch 5 by clicking on the  links.  My recent update in which I announced further cuts and two semi-finalists can be found here.

This week and next I will be posting reviews for the ten books I rolled forward to read fully.  Hopefully five reviews this week followed by an update and cuts and semi finalist announcements on Saturday.  I will then repeat this format the following week. I won’t be posting a rating for the books at this point.

TrialTrial of Thorns is a story of the fae and the first book in the Wicked Fae series. To be totally frank I had reservations going into this one and can’t deny I was worried that it might be more heavy on the romance than I would like. As it happens I had no need to worry., the romance here is barely touched upon, in fact this is a very slow burn with rising chemistry between two fae who are enemies and the ending leaves things hanging in the balance.

Caelyn, of the Shadow Court, was banished to the human world for killing a fae prince. As the story begins she is given the chance of redemption. To return home to act as Champion for the Shadow Court in the forthcoming Trial of Thorns. By way of background. The land of the fae is suffering from a plague, a blight that is killing the precious children and leaving the land it touches blighted and scorched. The fae queen has revived an old, long forgotten, trial to find a worthy champion to try and overcome this plague. Fae from all the courts will be chosen to take part. Unfortunately for Caelynn, many of those chosen to take part are more interested in seeing her dead and so not only will she need to meet the deathly challenges posed by the trials but also keep her wits when almost everyone wants her dead. The only thing in Caelynn’s favour is the power that she can wield, a power that she keeps hidden and is her only chance of success.

In terms of the plot this is a combination of competition and mystery. The trials involve a number of unknown and deathly challenges. In order to succeed a number of the fae make alliances and although Caelynn seems to stand on her own this isn’t the case for long. Then there’s the mystery of why Caelynn killed a fae prince.

I would say the world building is a little thin and primarily relies upon the reader already having a knowledge of the fae. We don’t see any of their trickery here and in a way, apart from the magic they wield they feel almost human. However, the trials contain magic and some of the resolutions are very entertaining.

The characters. Caelynn is the main character. She has a good deal of self loathing in relation to her past. This is not a character that is happy with herself and that comes through frequently. I wouldn’t say that Caelynn always makes the wisest choices, for example, bringing her human friend into the world of the fae – that was a clear mistake and a little bit selfish in some respects. but, I will cut her some slack with that because it also took a lot of guts to return to a world where almost everyone despised her and so she obviously wanted somebody to be in her corner. Reveln is also a prince, and brother to the future heir that Caelynn murdered. As you may imagine his thoughts where she is concerned are very dark. There are, of course, other characters involved in the trials but I’m not going to mention them all here. There are rivalries and jealousies aplenty but I did think the character arc for both Caelynn and Reveln was good. Both characters feel an inexplicable attraction, which might seem unlikely at first, but just go with it because their are unexpected developments not to mention some secrets revealed. I would just give a shout out to the shadow sprites. I really enjoyed them.

In terms of criticisms. As I mentioned, the fae world feels a little bit skimpy but it wasn’t a real issue. One thing that is inevitable with this is comparisons to books such as The Hunger Games or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – and, yes, to an extent there are similarities. This is a trial, the contestants must even win their place before they can enter and the trials can be deadly – however, in spite of certain similarities the Trial of Thorns carves its own path.

To be fair, I did have a few issues here and there and I would suggest they primarily rise around this being YA and my not being the target audience, but, in spite of any issues I felt I can say that I had a good time with this one and had no hesitation picking it up or lacking the desire to return to it.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.


15 Responses to “#SPFBO Review : Trial of Thorns (Wicked Fae #1) by Stacey Trombley”

  1. Tammy

    The cover definitely says “romance” to me. But I’m glad it wasn’t really the focus.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, there is a different cover now which is a little less ‘romance’ focused.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I also thought it was going to be romance heavy – I think the cover is really misleading and might turn some off from picking it up, which is a shame because it sounds quite good to me. Comparisons to Hunger Games and Goblet of Fire certainly aren’t a bad thing in my book!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I actually enjoyed it much more than I expected (given the cover) and would read the next instalment.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Agreed: the cover is somewhat misleading, and makes you think of a “bodice-ripper” in a fantasy setting 😀 but it’s good to learn that the story deals with other themes…

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, the romance is very slow burn and doesn’t take over at all.
      Lynn 😀

  4. waytoofantasy

    Yeah I agree with Tammy in that the cover definitely screams romance BUT you know that is a plus for me anyway haha. I think this would probably be one I’d enjoy, I might check it out!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think you might enjoy it – although I would say the romance is very slow burn (which I think is a positive element).
      Lynn 😀

  5. sptrombley88

    Thanks for reviewing!! I actually changed the cover recently, specifically because of the romance issue 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Cool. I’ll have to take a look… I can’t see an alternative on GRsbut if you let me know when it’s available I’ll highlight on my blog. This was a good read that I really enjoyed.

      • sptrombley88

        It’s on Amazon. Goodreads is stubborn about cover changes lol. I’ll have to see if I can get a GR library to change it for me.

  6. #SPFBO : Semi-Finalist and Cuts Announcement (2) | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] is also a slow burn romance that I imagine will progress in the next novel.  My review is here.  Also, please note that we have a new […]

  7. sjhigbee

    A great review, Lynn:)). I far prefer the new cover – especially as the romance is the slow burn variety that doesn’t run the narrative. It sounds like this is great fun – I always enjoy books with trials in them!

    • @lynnsbooks

      The romance definitely doesnt run the show in this one and I enjoyed the trials.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        I’m hoping to catch up on these after Sci Fi Month is over…

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