25 October 2020

Review || Sting of Thorns by Kristen Brand


The fight is over, and Leigh Morgan won. After spending months spying in Otherworld as a servant, she’s rescued the humans who were abducted by the Others and sent them safely home. She had to stay behind to destroy the gateway between worlds and keep them safe, but tough luck. She’s prepared to pay the price.

But she didn’t expect the curse the queen of Otherworld lays on her: a thorny vine growing under Leigh’s skin that will kill her when it reaches her heart. The queen will lift the curse…if Leigh uses her connections in the human realm to locate a magical weapon lost hundreds of years ago.

To ensure she succeeds, the queen sends her son, Dredarion Rath, the cunning prince Leigh had to betray to save her people. With anger and hurt still fresh, they can barely stand to be in the same room together, much less cooperate on such a dangerous mission. But as Leigh’s friends risk everything to help her, she’ll have to find a way to reconcile with Dredarion before their quest gets her and everyone she cares about killed.



   

Sting of Thorns is Book 2 in the Dark and Otherwordly series, with Poison and Honey (read my review here) being the book that started it all. This is a series that does need to be read in order but one that is entirely worth starting from the beginning. 

Poison and Honey introduced us to Otherworld, a portal world where royals rule, and people from Earth are abducted into servitude or worse. Leigh has been in Otherworld for a while searching for her sister and working covertly to bring those to safety who have been abducted. She's accomplished her goals and is prepared to take responsibility for her actions and accept whatever punishment the Queen chooses to doll out. Surprisingly, while Leigh was thrown in the dungeon and tortured for information, the Queen has different plans in store for her. Charged with returning to the human realm in search of a special sword, she and Dredarion have an awkward time ahead of them as he believes that everything Leigh did was a lie. 

This book is every bit as good as the first! Brand once again devises an exciting world and characters to get lost in for a few hours. Dredarion in Leigh's world, without a clue and completely out of his element, is so satisfying to see. He needs something to take him off guard and that certainly does. Not to mention a little gratifying comeuppance as he sees the true "mud people" that his world looks down upon. We also get to meet Leigh's friends that have bolstered each other in this Otherworld coup and they bring a lot of laughs and camaraderie. There are so many layers being built upon and new truths to uncover. 

Once again, I found that smidgen of horror in her writing that I loved! Poison and Honey had the zombie bear but Sting of Thorns has a terrifying race against the clock—the heart vine seed. Placed inside a cut on Leigh's finger, the vine gradually grows under the skin, up the arm, and to the shoulder where it will slowly strangle her heart if not stopped. With thorns that stab from the inside out, the heart vine is the Queen's guarantee that Leigh will find the mystical sword and return it.  Gruesome and delightful for this horror fan but oh so harrowing for our heroine! Definitely makes for a compelling and eventful page-turner! 

Kristen Brand's writing is immersive and imaginative. While the world-building might have been a bit easier this time Earthside, it's no less detailed and inventive. Once again, the end of the book comes way too quickly and the wait is on for the next in the series but the good news is...it's coming fast! The Cruelest Curse is set for release in November!