A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.
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.
Juniper & Thorn is a dark and powerful gothic fairytale, a loose retelling of The Juniper Tree a German fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. With some chilling and unsettling scenes, the atmosphere the author has created here is amazing. It’s not for the fainthearted it is gruesome and a little disturbing but so utterly compelling and I couldn’t put it down. Normally I would shy away from a book of this nature, not so much the triggers but the horror aspect, however the synopsis completely drew me in. After I’d read the first few pages and absorbed the unbelievably beautiful and descriptive writing I was completely hooked.
The characters are complex and the intensity of their emotions and feelings is palpable. The settings are weird but also wonderful. It’s mostly set within the confines of the family home with it’s dark and eerie hallways and the garden with all its peculiarities and monsters hiding out there; including the crying goblin and Ilkin the half goat, half man, but there are also scenes in the dark industrious city of Oblya and the ballet theatre.
Scrutinising a painting by Hieronymous Bosch is how this book make me feel, a bit uncomfortable and ill at ease but completely and utterly fascinated by its grotesqueness. Juniper & Thorn is full of triggers, so please do read the content warnings. That aside, this is an amazing read, beautifully written with vivid and striking imagery and it will always stick in my memory. A unique blend of horror and fantasy, it is difficult to read at times but this haunting tale is also incredibly hard to put down.
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date (UK): 21 June 2022
Page Count: 320
Genre: Fantasy/Fantasy Horror
Thank you to the publisher for the gifted advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊