Reviews of The Thorn and the Blossom:
School Library Journal: Adult/High School – Evelyn and Brendan’s story is told twice, once from each perspective, in this intriguing production. After a semester abroad at Oxford, American Evelyn Morgan takes a vacation in the Cornwall fishing village of Clews. Brendan Thorne is a local, minding his father’s bookstore when she stops in. They hit it off immediately, and Brendan is inspired to show Evelyn the town’s one attraction, a circle of standing stones. “The Tale of the Green Knight,” a local legend, has it that Elowen, queen of Cornwall, came to King Arthur’s court looking for help against a group of giants led by an evil sorceress, Morva. Gawan volunteered. [ . . . ] Their fates are clearly intertwined with this legend. Could they be the most recent incarnation of the cursed lovers? This simply told short story is enhanced by the physical design of the book–accordion style pages with hardbound covers. One cover is titled “Evelyn’s Story,” and the other is “Brendan’s Story.” Teens who enjoy a romantic tale will be enchanted by the clever packaging and the fanciful, touching story of young people thwarted in love. – Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City
The Guardian: But what if true love is rare – so rare that we might only find it once every ten lifetimes? Would you suffer loneliness for eternity waiting for love, or would you settle for something less? Such is the theme of The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss, a novel almost as remarkable for its format as its writing (but only almost). [ . . . ] Goss has written some of the most remarkable short fantasy fiction of recent years, shortlisted for the World Fantasy award for short fiction in 2005 for “The Wings of Master Wilhelm,” republished in her sole collection to date, 2006′s In the Forest of Forgetting. The Thorn and the Blossom is Goss’s longest work to date but even with its dual stories combined it numbers less than 100 pages. Nevertheless, it extends her fascination with postmodern revisions of myth and folktale, which has led to her being labelled among the emerging “mythpunk” movement in contemporary fantasy. The Thorn and the Blossom introduces the courtly Arthurian myth of Gawain and Elowen, and recasts it in modern garb, asking the reader to wonder if the values of courtly love could survive in the modern world. – Damien Walter
Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog: Leave it to Quirk Books to – once again – blow me away with an insanely innovative release. [ . . . ] The bottom line is this: the initial appeal of The Thorn and the Blossom is its unique construction but what makes this such a memorable reading experience is Goss’ poignant and deeply lyrical writing style. The fusion of contemporary romance and English folklore with the Green Man motif throughout gives this novel a dreamy feel and makes for an undeniably enchanting read – romance fans who enjoy their literary escapism flavored with myth and folklore will absolutely cherish this innovative and heartrending novel. – Paul Goat Allen
Dialect Magazine: Destined, unstoppable true love is a theme I tend to avoid in my reading, but Goss expertly blends the all-encompassing passion, and the literary love story, with the history and myth of Arthurian legend, layered like the accordion folds of the novella. The beautiful craftsmanship and slightly awkward form of this novel is a perfect format for the love story within. It is just inconvenient and fragile enough to prohibit one-handed subway reading, making reading The Thorn and The Blossom into a more mindful activity. In Goss’ The Thorn And The Blossom, fairies and witches’ curses and true love are real, but so is catching the bus and marking papers. This is magical realism at its best, a blend of epic love story and subtle affection. This story is for readers who believe in magic and true love, but not in lovers pining away, blandly waiting for a match to turn up and transform life. – Meg Stivison
A Little Sun Shy: I loved The Thorn and The Blossom, and so will you if legends, love stories, and modern-day Victoriana tickles your fancy. Somehow, a blend of Charlotte Bronte, Iris Murdoch, and Neil Gaiman has been achieved in two counterpart, intertwined, novellas. My hat is off to you, Ms. Goss, my hat is so far gone that I’ve lost sight of it.
Things Mean a Lot: The Thorn and the Blossom was one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of 2012, chiefly because of Theodora Goss’ lovely short fiction (some of which you can read online). As I was hoping, the book is full of elements I love – folklore, scholarship, echoes of medieval literature, and plenty of intertextual references. Although Goss’ style is very much her own, what she does here reminded me slightly of other authors I absolutely love, such as A.S. Byatt or Elizabeth Hand.
The Geek Inside: As in any good love story, things come between Evelyn and Brendan, and I was anxious that their story be resolved in a happy way. I’ll admit it here: I’m a sucker for a good story of Hope – the promise of happiness is so important and so many stories don’t give you that. I enjoyed this book, it’s shorter than most books I read but definitely packs a punch.
La Deeta Reads: This is a good story. It is a fantasy where cursed, starcrossed lovers are seemingly reunited through time. It is romantic, sad and of course you are led to believe that all could possibly work out in the end. I loved that it was in this quirky format, beautifully packaged. This book would make a lovely gift for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or just for a loved one.
Karissa’s Reading Review: Overall I really loved this book. I loved the beautiful writing, the subtle magic, and the literary references. I loved the haunting romance and the star-crossed quality to their relationship. It was a quick read, but a very enjoyable one.
Geekstronomy: I found it very refreshing to read a romance story that concentrates on the interaction of the couple, not the contrived situation they have put themselves into. [ . . . ] I would recommend this book to all those people who want a little romance in their lives, but have no interest in the bulging pantaloons.
Sapphyria’s Book Reviews: This is one of the most unique novels and I’m glad I was given a chance to read and review this. [ . . . ] I’m extremely proud to place this accordian-style book on my bookshelf!! eReaders only wish they could be as awesome as this hardcover, accordion-style book!!!
Inside of a Dog: I loved the way the story of the modern lovers echoed the story of the medieval ones. I loved the lyrical language of this story. I thought the concept of the book design was intriguing and perfectly suited to the story that Ms. Goss was telling. I recommend this book highly both for its art and for the wonderful language.
Reeder Reads: If the creative aspects of this beautiful novel don’t blow you away, the story itself will. [ . . . ] This is a beautiful, gripping love story told from two different perspectives that will take you about an hour and a half to read if you read it front to back. I started with Brendan’s story, but it can be read from either perspective and you’ll still get the sense of their love for one another because it’s evident on every page.
The Crazy Life of a Bookaholic Mom: The writing and storytelling are stunning and charming. [ . . . ] This would make a wonderful gift for someone who appreciates unique books or one who appreciates romantic fairy tales. It is a book I will be proud to display on my bookshelves and one I know I will enjoy time and time again! It is a truly enchanting gem of a book!
The Bookworm: The Thorn & the Blossom A Two-Sided Love Story is a sweet and quirky little book about two star-crossed lovers and I enjoyed it very much. These two short stories made me smile and sigh and had me wanting more. [ . . . ] All in all, a charming little romantic book with some mythology in the mix, that left me with a smile on my face.
Impressions: The story itself is beautifully written by Theodora Goss. This is a combination of the contemporary and the mythological, as Evelyn and Brendan’s story seems to mirror that of Sir Gawan and Elowen which is found in the medieval poem The Book of the Green Knight, simultaneously giving the reader a sense of a concrete present and a magical atmosphere. It’s a wonderful combination.
Unabridged Chick: This is a romance with academics, sort of A.S. Byatt-lite (in a good way!): Oxford scholars turned medieval professors, a kiss, a misunderstanding, some magic. [ . . . ] I read Evelyn’s story first, and let out a serious sigh upon finishing, then quickly flipped the book to gobble up Brendan’s story. (Who, by the way, needs to be my boyfriend. Hello, Mr. Dreamy.)
Tutor Girl Reads: This book was a really magical experience for me. I always have an intense interest in how academics do things, and there were just enough details about the researching, publishing, etc. process to keep me interested, but not enough that others not interested in such processes would get bogged down. That aside, this book was really a love letter to the stories that bring us together and the stories that last for generations.
The Introverted Reader: I got it in the mail, ripped it open, and fell in love. It is just a gorgeous book. There are a few illustrations and I loved those. The covers (Evelyn’s, Brendan’s, and the box that holds the book together) are well-matched and elegant. [ . . . ] Highly recommended, primarily because of the unique format of the book, but also for an enjoyable story of star-crossed lovers.
The Quillery: The Thorn and the Blossom is a very quick read weighing in at only 82 pages, but it really is amazing how much Theodora Goss packs into those pages. [ . . . ] The Thorn and the Blossom is beautifully written, enchanting and gorgeous inside and out. I suggest that you pick up the printed copy of this book to appreciate how special it is.
Misfit Salon: The Thorn and The Blossom has Goss’s trademark style: subtle, layered writing with unexpected fantastical touches. Goss expands upon the Arthurian legend of Gawain and the Green Knight and the Green Man folklore to tell the star-crossed love story of modern day Evelyn and Brendan. The parallels between the myths and the present day are not broad or obvious; I love the depth of Goss’s literary interpretation.
Wordsmithonia: This is one of those books that you need to read for the experience of reading it alone. It’s a two sided book without a spine. There are two covers and the pages are done like an accordion between then. When you finish one story, you flip it over and read the other. It’s a fairly short book either way you count the pages, but what’s inside was a pure joy to read.
I Just Want to Sit Here and Read (and you can also read an interview I did with this blog): The Thorn and the Blossom, by Theodora Goss, is a unique book with a lovely romance. The book is accordion style in which you can start reading Brendan or Evelyn’s side of the story first then when you are finished, flip it over and read the other. [ . . . ] There is no actual spine but I found myself really digging the layout. Overall, the story is very romantic with some magical elements sprinkled in.
Sophistitakied Reviews: Overall, The Thorn and the Blossom was definitely a unique reading experience. I enjoyed Brendan and Evelyn’s relationship and I loved that so much of the book was based around Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And getting into the heads of both characters as they tell the same story was an unfamiliar feeling, but it was really insightful and cool. I can only hope that more authors/publishers take notice of this creative way to bind a book and jump on the bandwagon; I’d love to read more novels like this!
The Charlotte Geeks: Goss has written a complete tragic love story and done so in 82 pages, the amount for each character to tell his and her tale. [ . . . ] If you are a book collector this is a great buy for your collection. It is unique in its design and construction. If you enjoy a tragic romance, then this is an excellent novel to buy. It is a quick read, and well worth reading twice in order to better piece their stories together.
The Bookaholic: I did not hesitate to review The Thorn and the Blossom after reading the premise and seeing the unusual binding of the novella, and in the end I was not disappointed. While it was a quick read, short and sweet, I adored the accordion style binding and romantic backdrop for the characters. [ . . . ] Sometimes whenever I finish a novel, I’ll wonder what the story would be like in the other character’s POV. I loved how The Thorn and the Blossom gives you this vision.
Daemon’s Books: I had a lot of fun reading The Thorn and the Blossom, it’s really well crafted and it was a different reading experience not just in the story, but also physically in holding the book, which is like an accordion. So if you’re looking for something new and exciting and quick to read (did I mention each side is only about 40 pages long), you should definitely get yourself a copy of The Thorn and the Blossom.
Beneath the Bracken: The bookbinder in me, was taken by the book itself. It’s constructed in accordion style with a slipcase and gorgeous illustrations. The reader in me, was taken by the story. Two stories, actually. It’s a love story which weaves the lives of Evelyn and Brendan, their past and their present; with a tale of wonder and enchantment. It’s a quietly beautiful story that, with its clarity and charm, stayed with me in the days after I’d read it. One to read again.
Journey of a Bookseller: One of the most fascinating things about this book is that it is accordion paged and comes in a slipcase. His story on one side of the pages, hers on the other. There is no right or wrong way to read it. Read her story first, or his if you prefer. And it’s a tantalizing tale. [ . . . ] Why not get a copy of this book for yourself and read about the secrets these two lovers hold? Happy reading.