Book Review: “Thornhedge” by T. Kingfisher

The love of monsters was uncomplicated.

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

LENGTH: 116 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 15 August 2023


From USA Today bestselling author T. Kingfisher, Thornhedge is an original, subversive fairytale about a kind-hearted, toad-shaped heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone completely sideways.

There’s a princess trapped in a tower. This isn’t her story.

Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?

If only.

Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He’s heard there’s a curse here that needs breaking, but it’s a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…

My Review

“There is a story,” Halim said, watching her closely, “of a beautiful maiden in a tower, enchanted by some terrible magic.”

“There cannot be a story,” said Toadling, almost inaudibly. “Everyone has been dead for so long. There cannot be a story. Who told you such a story?”

Thornhedge was a book I was looking forward to, ever since I first heard about it a few months back. I fairytale retelling? By the author of What Moves the Dead? Oh, heck yeah!

But I didn’t really like this book as much as I hoped that I would. Which has been a bit of a trend lately, unfortunately. (I’m looking at you Witch King. And you, the rerelease of Masters of Death.)

But I did like a few things about it. So I’m gonna talk about it. Uh, yeah.

(I’m just so eloquent, huh?)


I really liked the characters. Toadling was a very different take on the fairy who cursed the princess, and one I’ve never seen before. She’s nervous and insecure, but she has a phenomenal sense of duty that keeps her tied to the tower surrounded by thorns. She’s also curious, and longs to get a taste of the world(s) beyond her exile. Which is where our other major character comes in.

Halim was a great take on the knight in shining armor. Particularly because he’s not much of a knight – in his own words. He’s even more curious than Toadling, as that’s what led him to the tower to begin with, but he’s even more kindhearted. Even when he and Toadling meet face-to-face, he’s far more curious to her predicament than he is hostile, and spends the majority of the tale doing everything in his power to help her.

Beyond the characters, the other two things that I liked were the way T. Kingfisher built her world, and the lack of romance. Concerning the first of the two – I love the way that she weaves her stories (so far). The world building itself is just so intricately tied into the narrative in a way that I can’t imagine any other way to tell the story. I found it beautiful.

Regarding the lack of romance – I love gen relationships! There aren’t enough books completely free of romance out there, especially in the fantasy I’ve read, and it hurts me. I love a good friendship, and there aren’t enough novels where the main characters are just really close friends that exist. Particularly in a fairytale retelling.


As much as I loved the way the world building was, and how the story of Thornhedge was told… I don’t know how to explain it, honestly. I guess the novel itself just wasn’t quite for me.

This is nothing against the writing – I already said I liked it. I think the problem was there was too much background, and yet not enough. Maybe. Like I said, I think I just didn’t end up liking it as much as I’d wanted. I don’t know. So I’m not really sure what to put in my little con section here, lol.

Final Thoughts

She had so many choices and she had never had choices, never been given a chance to choose anything more important than what fish to snatch or what herb to pick.

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher was a very interesting and different take on Sleeping Beauty. Despite the fact that I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I’d have liked to, it was still a very refreshing take on a fairytale retelling.

I think that people who’ve read and enjoyed more of the author’s work will probably like this one, at least a little bit. I also think that those who just enjoy fairytale retellings and retellings in general, will find something to like about it, too. (As well as my fellow gen lovers!)

So yeah, as always, thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

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