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Review: The Thorn and the Sinking Stone

The Thorn and the Sinking Stone by C.J. Dushinski
Young Adult, Classic Retelling, Fantasy
Ebook (247 pages, ENTANGED TEEN)
Warring families. Forbidden love. And danger they can't escape…
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…
Author Site: website

I just cannot recommend it... (2 stars)

Retellings of classics and fairy tales seem to be really hot right now and I am 110% on the bandwagon. I love them and have loved them as long as I can remember. But, if I'm honest, I getting really sick of seeing Romeo and Juliet retold. Its' theme is one I enjoy seeing but outright retellings have begun to lose any freshness. Sadly, THE THORN AND THE SINKING STONE had the elements in place to be really good. Your Juliet and Romeo are from rival Japanese and Irish influenced gangs and some people are Cursed with special abilities (I was reminded of the X-Men a lot with the way it was presented). But the actual plot, world, and writing left a lot to be desired.

I found myself struggling to sit down and read this book. It was very much a case of a lot of words were being read and nothing was happening in them. I felt like I was watching 'snow' on an old television set. After three weeks of trying to read it every single day I finally hit about 2/3 and decided to skim. Even skimming the latter third of the book left me uninterested.

But why? I gave it a lot of thought and for me I think that the hugest factor was the lack of world building. The reader is thrust into Rain City and given very little understanding of what the world beyond the Hara house and the Daggers' place to work with. Is Rain City the only city? Why is it always raining/cloudy? Who actually runs the city? So much about this strange fantasy/futuristic/dystopian-ish world is unexplained. I need those details so I can have a clearer understanding of why the characters are feuding after several generations, why they live how they do, and why Cursed people are feared.

It also didn't help that Valencia is about as likable as a turnip and Sebastian is so dull and vaguely cookie-cutter... ugh, just could not bring myself to care what happened to either of them. They had zero chemistry which made their flirtation or whatever it was feel contrived. Considering the source material it's fair but I didn't enjoy it.

If you enjoy retellings I'm going to recommend a pass on this one. I just cannot recommend it. If it appeals to you for any other reason maybe you can pull something enjoyable out of it but I'm going to just overall suggest a pass.

If you found this review helpful would you please rate it on Amazon?

Notes: ARC received via publisher.

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