Friday, May 26, 2023

Reasons to Love Thornrose Estate

Hello, all! As some of you may be aware, Kendra E. Ardnek just dropped four new Beauty and the Beast retellings: Snow Quest Like Home (which combines B&B with The Snow Queen and a few other stories — plus bonus crossover with another series!), Fairer Than Beauty (a Twist of Adventure in which the main character did not want to be in this story), The Dragon (a Western fairytale I haven't read yet), and Thornrose Estate, which blends Beauty and the Beast with Northanger Abbey and rapidly claimed the spot of Favorite Austen Fairy Tale. Seriously, y'all — I loved this story so much, and I think you will too. And, of course, I'm going to give you all the reasons why.

Reasons to Love Thornrose Estate

  1. Calla is such a relatable heroine. This may be a surprise to those who read Snowfield Palace, but once we see Calla out of Rina's shadow . . . oh, I would so be friends with her! As with her Austen equivalent, she's a bookworm and, dare I say, fangirl who takes refuge in her favorite stories and tends to view life in narrative terms, and it gives me life every time she reflects on the narrative appropriateness of particular occurrences. And I think her struggle — trying to navigate life away from home and family in a world where there always seems to be info she's missing and working to figure out who she is in the face of who others are telling her she should be — is something that will resonate with most of us.
  2. Hansel is an absolute delight of a love interest. Simultaneously the voice of reason in many circumstances and an absolute sweetheart with regard to his loved ones, including Calla, Hansel is the most sensible person in the entire book, and I love him for it. He's his sister's staunch defender, and he reaches out to help and support Calla when others leave her floundering, and he's just generally wonderful. I only wish that we could've seen even more of him than we did, since he and Calla are so lovely together.
  3. The villains are eminently loathable. You know how, with regard to the Harry Potter fandom, fans tend to hate Umbridge so much more than Voldemort because Umbridge is a familiar villain, one of a type they've probably encountered themselves at some point? That's what Kendra does here with the villains in Thornrose. We have the manipulators, the false friends who make it seem like they care for you but are only really using you for their own ends. (Can't say who those are, but if you've read Snowfield, you probably have a good guess about one of them, and if you've read NA, you can guess the other.) And we also have the John/Gaston character in Johnston, a man whose pride makes Calla's strengths into something he has to "forgive" and who's more than happy to ignore her discomfort with his attentions if it means getting what he wants. And, let me tell you, it is so satisfying to see them get their due in the end.
  4. So many mysteries to unravel — and it's very satisfying to get some answers! If you've read Snowfield Palace, you know that Kendra left us all on quite the cliffhanger with many, many unanswered questions. Thornrose Estate finally gives us some answers, but sparingly, and Kendra weaves them in with other mysteries: why can't Calla remember half her life — and why does she keep losing bits and pieces of more recent memory? Why do so many important people seem to have such an interest in her? And what the pumpernickel is going on with the Forest? Calla's memory means she's often just as uncertain as we are, but we know just enough more than she does to put pieces together, and the effect is just so good. It's one of the main reasons I ended up devouring the second half of the book in one night.
  5. Northanger Abbey and Beauty and the Beast are an excellent pairing. Kendra hasn't missed once on her fairy tale and Austen combos! I will say that this is much more Northanger Abbey than it is Beauty and the Beast — while there are plenty of B&B elements, this doesn't really read like a straight retelling of that fairy tale. The story does make up for this somewhat by giving us two in-world versions of B&B that Calla loves and uses as the chief basis for trying to figure out all the strangeness she's stumbled into. That said, even if you look at it as just a Northanger Abbey retelling, Thornrose Estate is excellent.

If you haven't already preordered Thornrose Estate, you can pick it up on Amazon now! So, how excited are you for this retelling? And who's the most relatable protagonist or familiarly-loathable villain you've ever encountered? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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