Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen (ARC Review)

Violet Made of Thorns book cover


Goodreads: Violet Made of Thorns
Series: Untitled Duology #1
Age Category: Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Publication Date: July 26, 2022

Official Summary

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

Star Divider


Violet Among Thorns takes readers to a fantastical kingdom where war is on the horizon and only the prince can stop it by fulfilling a prophecy related to finding his true love– an endeavor he, unfortunately, seems in no rush to complete. Magic and prophecies and intrigue wind together as various characters work towards their own ends and try to keep the prophecy of destruction from coming true.

There is a lot going on in this book, but that often makes it entertaining to read. Protagonist Violet needs to navigate Fates and kings and visions and royal balls and help keep the nation running smoothly, especially because her own position as royal Seer is on the line. Little snippets of other fairy tales like “Cinderella” are woven in, and readers may have fun spotting them, but the plot is largely original and takes a few twists and turns.

Unfortunately, the characterization didn’t work for me. I understand Violet is supposed to be an antiheroine, and I don’t need protagonists to be “likable” if they’re interesting– but it does help if I can understand the motivations of an antiheroine or if I actually think she’s clever. Here, readers get a character who is, arguably, not very good at being a Seer and who is unnecessarily hostile to and judgmental of everyone around her. It’s horrid if they’re all fake rich people out for themselves, apparently, but fine when it’s her. And, frankly, she’s not even witty. There’s a difference between walking around insulting everyone and flinging clever insults at them. Basically, I felt she was annoying and ungrateful and wasn’t really good at being a Seer or being smart or . . . anything that would have at least made her interesting beyond, “She’s not afraid to be rude to everyone.”

The romance is also lackluster. There are a lot of make out scenes, but there is zero chemistry between the two characters, and even they seem at a bit of a loss to explain why they are attracted to each other besides some vague idea they like that the other person is rude to them and the whole thing has a forbidden romance air. Again, I wouldn’t exactly say they are having sexually tense witty banter at each other’s expense; they just seem to say obnoxious things to each other that aren’t truly that penetrating or humorous.

So, there’s a lot to like here, in terms of mysteries and magic and an exciting plot, as well as political intrigue within Violet’s court and between her kingdom and others. I do wish the main characters had been better-developed, but I still think a lot of readers will enjoy this one.

3 Stars

8 thoughts on “Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen (ARC Review)

  1. 24hr.YABookBlog says:

    Antihero characters usually need to be written in very specific ways or the development won’t really work, sorry this happened for you in this book. I’m interested to read it though because the world and magic sound interesting.


  2. R. E. Chrysta says:

    As I’m expanding my reading, I realized I don’t like such heroines as Violet, and more so if they’re not created well. Being rude, I don’t believe, is brave.


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