A Treason of Thorns

Harper Teen. Sept. 2019. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062696908.
Gr 9 Up–In this inventive and atmospheric tale, Weymouth imagines a world in which places have as much soul and heart as the people who live within them. Violet Sterling has grown up believing that she one day will be Caretaker of Burleigh House and, as such, she must put her house before everything else. Burleigh is one of the great houses that has long stabilized the English countryside. However, the house’s health is declining—the result of being enslaved to a line of cruel kings. Everything gets worse when Violet’s father is convicted of treason and executed, leaving Violet to wonder how she can balance her own desires against her obligation to Burleigh. This book does a beautiful job imagining the ways that a human being and a house might communicate, often wordlessly, through looming clouds, creeping vines, rising mortar, and profusions of thorns. Weymouth is lyrical in rendering the atmosphere around Violet, and these descriptions only make the elements of grief and pain in Violet’s story stand out more starkly as her journey progresses. This story is engrossing, grounded in the complex emotions and experiences of its characters. Ultimately, Weymouth creates a unique setting to draw out questions about fate versus free will and duty versus the call of one’s heart. Violet is identified as white, and there are secondary characters of color.
VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy atmospheric writing, strong female leads, and fantastical storytelling.

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