The Path of Thorns
by A.G. Slatter
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Pub Date 28 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 14 Jun 2022
Asher Todd comes to live with the mysterious Morwood family as a governess to their children. Asher knows little about being a governess but she is skilled in botany and herbcraft, and perhaps more than that. And she has secrets of her own, dark and terrible – and Morwood is a house that eats secrets. With a monstrous revenge in mind, Asher plans to make it choke. However, she becomes fond of her charges, of the people of the Tarn, and she begins to wonder if she will be able to execute her plan – and who will suffer most if she does. But as the ghosts of her past become harder to control, Asher realises she has no choice.
From the award-winning author of All the Murmuring Bones, dark magic, retribution and twisted family secrets combine to weave a bewitching and addictive tale.
Praise for The Path of Thorns:
“A delightfully sinister fairy tale full of dark rituals, reluctant romance, and revenge served bitterly cold, The Path of Thorns is a modern classic.” -Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For The Wolf
“In this spellbinding tale, love is a dark and fractured thing. The Path of Thorns dares you to enter a world where there are no heroes, lies are the currency of the wronged and characters will pay any price to get their revenge. Slatter spins a mesmerising story, whose pace never falters and which kept me reading long into the night. A brilliantly assured modern fairy tale.” -Lucy Holland, bestselling author of Sistersong
“The Path of Thorns is a gothic masterpiece – rich and dark, with enough twists and turns to keep you reading late into the night. A spellbinding, memorable novel.” -Juliet Marillier, author of the Blackthorn & Grim and Warrior Bards series
“The Path of Thorns is ferocious and filled with monstrous women who neither seek forgiveness for what they are, nor want anything less than what is owed to them. There are no good people here, no real heroes. Instead, we have people who will not be silenced, not by the world, not even by death. The Path of Thorns is a glorious, bloody, unflinching book.” -Cassandra Khaw, USA Today bestselling author of Nothing But Blackened Teeth
“The Path of Thorns is beautiful and vicious. Although it is a ruthless, Gothic tale, bright and bitter as poison, cold as a crypt, its chinks are stopped against the bleakest winds with deft, jewel-toned tales, and at its bruised heart, it is as loving and warm as a wolf curled around her cubs.” -Kathleen Jennings, British Fantasy Award-winning author of Flyaway and World Fantasy Award-winning illustrator
"The perfect Gothic fairy tale, full of darkness and danger seething beneath an idyllic surface." -A.C. Wise, author of Wendy, Darling and Hooked
Average rating from 149 members
As someone who usually reads romance, it surprised me how much I loved this book. I love dark Fairytale retellings, and The Path of Thorns had the perfect amount of everything in it - even a bit of a romantic storyline!
I breezed through this in a day, and I regret NOTHING. Asher Todd is one of my favourite MCs of the year.
Haunting, atmospheric and lyrical The Path of Thorns is an moving tale of family and revenge. This book reads very much like a dark fairy tale and will suck you in with it's twisted secrets and compelling main character.
We follow Asher, who comes to to live with the mysterious Morwood family as a governess to their children. With a monstrous revenge in mind, Asher plans to take down the family from the inside. However, she becomes fond of her charges, of the people of the Tarn, and she begins to wonder if she will be able to execute her plan – and who will suffer most if she does. But as the ghosts of her past become harder to control, Asher realises she has no choice.
I had never read anything by this author before and was very pleasantly surprised with this one!! I love gothic feeling horror with lots of witchcraft and an old family with secrets and a borderline haunted house - so this really ticked all my boxes! The writing was also stunning; it created the perfect creepy atmosphere whilst still maintaining a very human sense of empathy with Asher and her story.
The relationships Asher has with the different characters in the book are all fascinating to explore. The children she looks after are very precious and it is interesting to see how they treat Asher vs how they treat their mother/father and I think the author has an excellent insight into abusive relationships and places of safety. Also the relationship Asher has with her own mother (who may or may not be a ghost lol) is so intriguing and compelling and I think beautifully highlights the often complex relationships between mothers and daughters with the expectations, conflicting intentions and generational trauma.
I also liked the brief hint of romance and how this influenced Asher and her decisions. I also really liked the banter they had and was surprisingly invested despite it only having a little bit of page time.
The subtle hints of magic and witchcraft woven throughout the story are excellently done and fit in perfectly with the rest of the story, adding to and compounding the tension and stakes. I also loved certain family/town secrets with certain supernatural creatures that made me enjoy the story even more.
Overall I would highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of haunting prose, witchy horror, complex family dynamics with a lot of dark secrets slowly revealed and very well written characters.
My thanks to Titan Books for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Path of Thorns’ by A.G. Slatter.
While its cover initially drew my attention, it was full of elements that I love: spooky Gothic houses, witchcraft, fairy tales, and even wolves,
Last spring I had read Slatter’s gothic fantasy, ‘All the Murmuring Bones’, and adored it. She announced at the conclusion that she was working on another novel set in the same fictional world, that she has named Sourdough.
So a few details: Asher Todd comes to Morwood Grange as a governess to the family’s children. She actually doesn’t know very much about being a governess and has her own agenda for taking the position. She is skilled in both botany and herbcraft, though also in magic (though she keeps knowledge of this to herself).
Indeed, Asher has a number of dark secrets, including a plan for revenge. However, over time she becomes fond of the children under her care and of the people of the village of Morwood Tarn. This causes her to question her mission though the ghosts of her past may prove too strong to resist. No further details to avoid spoilers.
I felt that Asher Todd was a wonderful lead character/narrator and I was completely caught up in her story.
In her Author’s Note A. G. Slatter identifies the origins of the fantastical tales that she has woven into the narrative. Some were originally published in her short story collections and magazines and four were newly written for this novel.
Her version of Red Riding Hood and other Wolf-themed tales had echoes for me of Angela Carter’s lupine fairy tales and indeed this award-winning Australian author has been compared to Carter; though I feel that she is worthy of acclaim in her own write 😻 given the power of her lyrical prose, approach to the retelling of fairy tales, and rich storytelling skills.
Overall, I loved ‘The Path of Thorns’. It proved a beautifully written, atmospheric Gothic fantasy. I will be looking forward to A.G. Slatter’s future projects as well as exploring her earlier works written under the name Angela Slatter.
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