Title: Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid
Published by: Del Rey
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 couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into Juniper & Thorn and it was much darker than I was expecting. It’s a haunting and unsettling read that captured my attention from the start.
I felt so sorry for Marlinchen being trapped in that house with her cruel family. Her father and two sisters treated her so horribly and I was really hoping she’d find a way to leave the house and live her own life without them constantly pulling her down. They constantly tell her she’s stupid and not pretty, that no one would want her. You can see how much it’s worn her down and how powerless she feels compared to her father. It honestly broke my heart how trapped she was and how she thought no one would want her.
I was so happy for her when she met Sevas and instantly felt a connection to him. However, I would have preferred more of a gradual build-up between them as the romance was very sudden. I did really like the romance between them though as it was a bright spot in this very dark and unsettling story. It really showed how bleak Marlinchen’s life was until she met Sevas. I couldn’t wait to see if she’d be able to escape her father’s dark clutches and I was really rooting for her and Sevas to find a way to be together. The pacing is slow and
Marlinchen seemed to be doing the same tasks everyday so it started to feel a bit repetitive. I did find it interesting when Marlinchen and her sisters saw clients because you’re able to see how their magic works. I thought Marlinchen’s magic was the most interesting and was eager to find out more about it.
I love how atmospheric it is and how claustrophobic it felt in that house. However, it’s a really shocking and unsettling read and I was a bit overwhelmed by how dark it got, so I’d strongly advise people to look up the content warnings before reading it. It’s a very gruesome story.