On a cold day deep in the heart of winter, Rowan’s father returns from an ill-fated hunting trip bearing a single, white rose . . .
Rowan, Aspen, and Juniper, the three daughters of a widowed and recently bankrupt merchant, think their bad luck has finally come to end. They have escaped their father’s creditors, and while Rowan longs to be back in the city, the small village nestled in the foothills of the mountains offers her family a chance to start over again in a place where her father’s name is not synonymous with disaster.
The village, her mother’s childhood home, is frustratingly provincial, and Rowan thinks she understands why her mother was so eager to leave it behind. The villagers are full of superstitions and old clan feuds, and worst of all, her ability to read and write is dismissed— especially by her betrothed.
Still, her family is safe, here, and Rowan is determined to make the best of it, until the day her father returns from an ill-fated hunting trip bearing the bodies of his companions and a single, white rose.
The rose is followed by the Huntress, a figure out of legend. Tall, cruel, and achingly beautiful, she brings Rowan back with her to a mountain fastness populated solely by the creatures of the hunt. Rowan, who once scorned the villagers for their superstitions, now finds herself at the heart of a curse with roots as deep as the mountains, ruled by an old magic that is as insidious as the touch of the winter rose.
Rowan’s terror quickly turns to anger at her captivity, and the Huntress, who seems more beastly than all of animals who serve her combined, refuses to give her satisfactory answers. Her only comfort comes from the runty wolf pup that the Huntress leaves for dead, and, of course, the Huntress’ extensive library.
Torn between her family loyalties, her guilty relief at escaping her betrothal to the charming but arrogant Avery Lockland, and her complicated feelings for the Huntress, Rowan must find a way to break the curse before it destroys everything she loves. There is only one problem. If she can find a way to lift the curse, she will have to return to the life she left behind, and the only thing more unbearable than endless winter is facing a lifetime of springs without the Huntress.
“Thorn gives young women all the leading roles: heroes, villains, and lovers. The story delves into clothing as self-presentation, the release from bearing children, the work of self-reliance, reckoning with a family or past that no longer fits, the give and take of true partnership, and the interlinked importance of self-knowledge and love. It does all of this within a framework of castles, rugged landscapes, and forbidding enchantments. Thoroughly gratifying, Thorn is a perennial escape fantasy tangled up with a call to adventure. Burke turns one young woman’s release from drudgery into a beguiling disruption of conventional social roles, expected dichotomies, and personal power. “—Foreword Reviews, Starred Review
Raised in Upstate New York, ANNA BURKE graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a B. A. in English Literature and Studio Art. She holds a certificate from the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa; and was the inaugural recipient of the Sandra Moran Scholarship for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Writing Academy. Anna’s debut novel, Compass Rose, was written while living on a small island in the West Indies, but Thorn is the product of a long, cold New England winter.