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<em>The Thorn and the Blossom</em> by Theodora Goss
The first thing we have to talk about with this book is the structure. I follow Theodora on Facebook and so I heard the news about her upcoming book and witnessed the cover reveal, but somehow I missed the completely unique way this book was published. It's bound accordion style.
Yes, this book has no spine. See the picture below for a visual explanation!
The Thorn and the Blossom tells a love story from two perspectives, with one perspective on each side of the accordion. Evelyn is an American traveling in the UK and trying to decide if she should succumb to family pressure and go to law school, or study her true passion, which is literature. The other perspective is from Brendan, a small town native with a passion for literature himself, in particular a legend concerning his home town about the Green Knight and Queen Elowen.
The two meet in Brendan's family's bookstore and begin a strange romance that carries across the ocean and a decade. Through magical secrets and tragic misinterpretation their lives come to parallel the legend they both love.
I truly loved the atmosphere in this book. We begin in an ages-old town somewhere in the UK, but even when we go to America the colonial collegiate setting is peaceful and immersive. This is a short book but Theodora made me care about her characters from page 1. For Evelyn, who wouldn't want to be backpacking through Europe, and who hasn't struggled with explaining their passion for writing and defending it as a legitimate career choice? For Brendan, who hasn't seen someone they were instantly drawn to, and struggled with the choice to fit in or stand out?
Because this book tells the same story from different perspectives, choosing who to start with is important. I started with Evelyn but after reading the whole thing I wish I'd started with Brendan. Evelyn is keeping a secret Brendan never truly uncovers, and I think I would have enjoyed the mystery of it if I'd read his perspective first.
This is a book I'm proud to have on my shelf, not only for the unique binding style and beautiful cover, but for the endearing plot and simple, elegant language. I read this book in an hour and will definitely do so again soon, especially now that I get to go back and compare both perspectives to each other.
If you love novelty physical books, medieval literature, academic settings, or tragic love stories, I highly recommend picking this book up (and playing with its accordion pages!)
And if you're curious about Theodora herself, you can visit her website here. Theodora teaches literature and has been widely published with various short stories and essays. She's even appeared in Realms of Fantasy, which is my favorite fantasy magazine to pick up at the bookstore.
Want this book for your bookshelf? We'll we're giving you the opportunity to win one!
To enter to win a copy of THE THORN AND THE BLOSSOM, just leave a comment about your favorite novelty book! This giveaway ends on Friday and is open internationally!