Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid

Juniper and Thorn by Ava ReidJuniper and Thorn by Ava Reid
Published by Harper Voyager on June 21, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

About Juniper and Thorn

Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid is an incredibly dark retelling of an already grim fairytale, The Juniper Tree. Marlinchen is the youngest of three daughters. Unlike the eldest, Undine, she’s plain and she’s not clever like her middle sister, Rose.

They live with their father, the last wizard, in a crumbling heap of a mansion with eyeless ravens and other monsters in the garden. Their father forces his witch daughters to see clients – scrying, crafting potions, or giving flesh readings to bring in money. He’s tyrannical and abusive, having turned their mother into a bird years before.

The sisters plot an evening out to see the ballet, something their father would never allow. What seemed a mior disobedience has serious consequences.

My thoughts about Juniper and Thorn

The world building is gorgeous and complex – the sisters living in a Russian feeling city that once thrived on magic but is slowly being industrialized. Instead of chieftains on the steppes, it’s run by a bureaucracy with influxes of immigrants.

Gothic monstrosity of a house falling further and further into disrepair. Even has a monster under the bed.

The pacing is one of ever increasing tension. The father’s abuse gets worse. His xenophobia and misogyny ever increasing. His hunger, gotten from a witch’s curse, is never sated and he commands youngest daughter, Marlinchen, to cook for him even as her hunger goes unappeased. More and deeper secrets are revealed – some remembered and some newly discovered but all horrific and dark.

The writing is so lovely contrasted with the grotesqueries being written about and it creates a perfectly balanced tension.

You get:

  • Curses
  • Magical creatures
  • Wizards and witches
  • Beautiful ballet dancer
  • Dark family secrets
  • Magical three daughters
  • Contest to win their hands
  • Mirror that only tells the truth
  • Hints of Cinderella
  • Transformation spells
  • Mysterious murders
  • Gothic crumbling mansion
  • Creepy garden with magical creatures

CW: Abuse, self-harm, cannibalism, murder, rape 

In closing

Juniper and Thorn is dark fantasy, beautiful, magical, and horrific – an intense and gorgeous read.

And the gorgeous cover gives me Alphonse Mucha vibes.

Thank you Harper Voyager for the ARC!

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About Ava Reid

Ava Reid was born in Manhattan and raised right across the Hudson River in Hoboken, but currently lives in Palo Alto. She has a degree in political science from Barnard College, focusing on religion and ethnonationalism.

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