Daggers. Roses. Cowboys. Boat Men. Survivors of Earth's Last War, four "families" vie to rule the dreary streets of Rain City through violence and blood. Valencia Hara, Princess of the wealthy Black Roses, is raised in warrior ways with sharpened steel. But she is no ordinary Rose. She is Cursed--tainted with the ability to see seconds into the future…
To avenge his father's death, Sebastian Leold, of the rival gang Two Daggers, must face off against the Black Princess, he with his dagger, she with her katana sword. Yet a secret from a shared past leaves him unable to kill beautiful Valencia; nor can she kill him. For they once knew each other beyond their blood feud…and they have more secrets in common than they know.
But in a world filled with vengeance and violence, there can be no room for love…
It’s been a while since I’ve had a novel pull me in quite like this one. The Thorn and the Sinking Stone, I kind of imagine, would be like if The Gangs of New York and Romeo and Juliet had a baby. This novel wasn’t something I devoured overnight, rather, it was something that I savored, stretched out over the course of 5 days to fully appreciate all that was going on in this dark world/gem of a YA novel.
There are so many key players in this novel, but all centered around Valencia and Sebastian. Valencia is from Hara House, she is a Rose, the princess of a dynasty forged in the samurai way. Sebastian is a Dagger, part of another gang leading the way in Rain City. The conflict: the Roses and Daggers are sworn enemies. The delicious plot that pulls you in: Valencia and Sebastian slowly empathize with one another, and that turns into sympathy and then that turns into the most unlikely thing that can occur between feuding households: love.
There was a beautiful Brazilian movie I watched years ago with a similar theme: two feuding families. The sons of each family would kill one another and after each death, the son from the alternating family would attend the funeral of the son they killed and ask the patriarch of the family for forgiveness. Of course the father would never forgive and the feuding continued and continued until tragedy struck. The alternating family’s last son accidentally shot and killed the youngest son from the other family, a little boy no older than 7-8. It took something that egregious to end the feuding. The Thorn and the Sinking Stone reminded me of that movie. I hate that Valencia’s brother was so willing to sacrifice her out of pride, but loved the way the author brought the two opposing sides together.
From decade after decade of bloodshed, violence and death, finally a couple emerges that can set aside who they are and where they come from. And how, you ask, does that occur? When they are faced with similar issues, ones that present a larger enemy than themselves. The Watchmen are the police-like force in Rain City and at all costs they hunt down individuals considered Cursed. Cursed folks have supernatural abilities like telekinesis, etc. Not wanting to give away too much, suffice it to say that both Valencia and Sebastian are Cursed. When they are faced with having to fight each other to settle yet another blood debt, they discover they share the same trait and from there, a friendship of sorts, is formed.
Told from alternating view points, Valencia’s and Sebastian’s story was beautifully written set against the dark streets of Rain City where there’s a constant threat around every corner. I suppose this could be considered a standalone novel, but I suspect there’s so much more to tell.
The two feuding houses were unique and I’d have to say, aside from Godfrey and Valencia, I didn’t care for her brother or mother. And of course I understand that those characters had to be that way, otherwise it would be boring cheering for everyone. But it did allow me to empathize more with the Dagger household. Kane and Callen seemed so much easier to empathize with. There was a genuine brotherly love and concern amongst them, where Valencia’s crew was ice-old.
The ending was wonderful, nicely concluding what the novel had worked up to: the ability to accept a new future where things are uncertain, but with rays of sunshine gleaming through bringing with it the promise of a better life.
I’d highly recommend The Thorn and the Sinking Stone to lovers of YA with a dark theme, a dystopian feel with a nice dose of suspenseful romance. This was a charming novel, a delight to the literary senses and deserves to be read slowly so as to enjoy all that is going on in this dark, alluring world.
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About the Author:
While attempting to navigate life as a responsible human being, CJ graduated from university with a B.Comm and worked her way along as marketer, copywriter, and graphic designer to earn a paycheck while pursing her passion for creating fantastical stories set in dark and wondrous corners of the world. Born amongst the wheat fields and open skies of the Canadian prairies, CJ’s imagination has always run wild, taking her on adventures across the world from modeling in Seoul, South Korea to backpacking through Europe and surfing (poorly) in Hawaii.
After wandering through ancient cities and civilizations, learning from diverse cultures, and surrounding herself in new experiences, CJ was inspired and began work on her debut Young Adult novel THE THORN AND THE SINKING STONE, to be published by Entangled Publishing 2014/15. CJ currently resides in Calgary, Alberta Canada – home of the Canadian Rockies – and keeps one hand on her passport and pen at all times, ready to pick up, see the world, and weave her experiences into stories.