on 24 January 2012
Firstly, I must say that this book is wonderfully put together. It's so creative and unique, and it's one of the things that initially drew me to the book.
The Thorn and the Blossom had a great premise with lots of potential, but I felt very disappointed by the execution of it.
I started with Brendan's side of the story, and while you can start with either story, I definitely think Brendan's is the best place to begin. Evelyn's story answers a lot of questions that were brought up in Brendan's instead of bringing up questions of its own.
My main issue with this book is the plot. Two lifetimes - almost - are condensed into very few pages. The story jumped from when the pair of them were teenagers to a few years later within a matter of paragraphs. I don't think the creative presentation would have worked if this book was longer, but it felt as though the story suffered due to the presentation. It felt extremely rushed, and it made the experience less enjoyable.
The writing was good, although like I said there were times when the story jumped. There were also a couple of inconsistencies that I noticed, one of which was Brendan's father complaining about having to work harder to pay for Brendan's university tuition. Brendan would have received loans to pay for this, so it was an inaccuracy that annoyed me a little because it felt like poor research.
The dialogue was also a little strange at times but it wasn't that big of a deal.
Overall, the love story is sweet and the fantasy aspect was woven in quite nicely but it wasn't enough to keep me entertained.
on 17 July 2013
This is a quirky, unique book that wins a lot of points from the first moment you pick it up thanks to its structure. Held within a slip case the book is printed on a long continuous concertina, there are hard covers at both ends, one with an E and one with a B. If you start with the E as the front cover you read Evelyn’s story and if you start with the B you read Brendan’s story. The idea is that you get both sides of the same story, it’s up to you which you start with. The only thing I would say is that I decided to read this with the book on a table – the concertina does have a slight tendency to simply fall open if you’re not holding it carefully. This is very easily got around however and is very worth it for the loveliness of the book.
I read Evelyn’s story first, I found part of her story intriguing – she has a history of seeing other worldly beings and I was interested by the way this was treated as some sort of mental health problem. Brendan’s story is a little more straightforward though sadder, the section of the story where the two stories are not intertwined fill in the gaps for Brendan very well.
I loved the way Celtic mythology was at the very heart of this book, for me it added a whole extra layer of satisfaction. Very quickly you understand how the story is likely to unfold, I found that this pulled me deeper into the book. I liked the ending of both sides of the story and felt that it fitted well with the mythology.
The idea of telling the story from both perspectives adds some really nice touches to the reading experience. It allows you to get to know the characters really well, you get the combination of their thoughts in their side of the story and how they’re seen in the opposite side of the story. The only downside I found to the structure was that at times when I was reading Brendan’s story I found myself scanning quickly through the bits that were virtually carbon copies of the same events in Evelyn’s story.
Overall I really enjoyed the experience of reading this book, it’s a very quick read – both sides of the story are just over 40 pages long – and the novel structure is used really well to enhance the book.
on 29 February 2012
The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss is an unusual book! I think Quirk Books is a publisher that really tries to play with different formats and other things with their books, and it is no expection with this title. What initially grabbed me about The Thorn and the Blossom is this very unique accordian-style format that allows the two stories to be told - the first from the front and the second from the back. It's all a little bit different and I was intrigued.
It isn't a very long story, either one of them, and it's quite a simple tale. It's the story of two people, Evelyn and Brendan, as they meet one day in a Cornish village. They spend a week together, exploring their surroundings and getting to know each other. And within that one small week, Evelyn's life is changed as she continues to research and base her career on this ancient story that is told to her about two lovers cursed to be apart for a thousand years.
There's this sense that perhaps Evelyn and Brendan could be recreating this timeless love story, or is it just coincidence? You'll have to read it in order to find out! I really enjoy books that contain elements of other stories to them. It was fun to imagine these two characters taking on the roles of this ancient love story, but to also discover other secrets and unexpected twists within their two stories.
I read Evelyn's story first. I really thought this book would be rather straightforward in the type of love story that it is, but I was surprised at the addition of some rather magical elements but also the serious issue of how some of Evelyn's fantastical visions are viewed by doctors and the like in these modern times. I think I preferred Brendan's story as the ending felt very hopeful. Both stories so different though, in terms of perspective, that I really felt like re-reading both sets again once I'd finished.
My only issue with this book is that it covers a very long amount of time in the lives of both characters and I'd perhaps have liked a bit more to both stories. As two short stories about love, it was both different to what I'd normally read and also pretty enjoyable if a little bit short.