Bywater Books is pleased to announce that Thorn by Anna Burke has been named the 2019 Foreword Reviews INDIES LGBT+ Adult Fiction Book of the Year.


Foreword Reviews, a book review journal focusing on independently published books, announced the winners of its INDIES Book of the Year Awards today. The awards recognize the best books published in 2019 from small, indie, and university presses, as well as by self-published authors.

“For a couple of months a year, our editorial team gathers together for the collaborative work of reading through the thousands of worthy INDIES submissions we receive, whittling categories down to the few books that best represent the spirit and potential of independent publishing,” says Managing Editor Michelle Anne Schingler. “The task of judging books is never easy—our impulse, as readers, is to embrace all titles—but it’s work that we take seriously, as do the librarians and booksellers who further narrow the categories after us.

“The end result is a shortlist of winners that represent the best of the best—independent titles that you absolutely should not miss. In these troubled times of tremendous change, we hope that you’ll find these selections inspiring—a reminder of what we’re all working toward together.”

The complete list of finalists can be found at Foreword Reviews.


When a fatal mistake brings Rowan into the hands of the Huntress, she finds herself trapped in an enchantment that is every bit as alluring as it is cruel.

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. 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 scent of the winter rose. Torn between her family loyalties, the guilty relief of 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

“Her prose is exquisite, her characters are memorable, and her worlds are as enthralling as they are dangerous.” —TARA SCOTTThe Lesbian Review

“A riveting and original romantic thriller of a fantasy novel by an author with a total mastery of the genre, Anna Burke’s Thorn will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy Action/Adventure collections.” —Wisconsin Bookwatch, The Midwest Book Review

“Burke is a very talented writer and weaved such beautiful proses throughout the story that often caused me to re-read paragraphs just to enjoy them again. The skillful writing in this book made the story even more compelling and lent itself to driving a vivid setting, perfect pacing, and well-rounded characters.” — KD RYE, The Lesbian 52

“An epic romance, a dramatic adventure, an exploration of what women are capable of—good, bad and ugly. And all wrapped up in a story worthy of a blockbuster Netflix fantasy. Just brilliant —Ms. Burke is one to watch.” —VELVET LOUNGERThe Lesbian Reading Room

“Burke’s writing is rich and textured. You won’t want to rush through this novel. In fact, if you do, you’ll miss so much. This is writing you want to take in slowly. It deserves to be savored.” —CARLEEN SPRYFrivolous Views

“With its thoughtful re-casting and turns of phrase so perfect and subtle they made a thousand tiny cuts in my heart, I can honestly say l loved Thorn. I loved it. I will read it again. I will recommend it to friends. It is what I always wanted Beauty and the Beast to be.” —ROSILAND CHASE & ELIZA MacARTHUR, Biscuits & Bodices

“Sometimes, you finish a book, and you’re just sat there basking in the afterglow, and then realise you need to review it but have no words to actually describe your feelings about it.” —ANNA and CHARLOTTEReads Rainbow 

“Burke’s talent is boundless. Her eloquent imagery at times almost brought me to tears and her character work is untouchable. She was able to breathe new life into this familiar tale and make it completely her own.” —VICTORIA THOMASThe Lesbian Review

“The tone of this novel shifts back-and-forth from poetic and romantic as a rose to hurting and heartbreaking as a thorn. Similarly, the pace changes from slow-burn romance to fast-paced thriller. This book has been a pleasure to read and shows that Anna Burke is quickly becoming more than a promising writer.” —GABY MAURINOLez Review Books

“Burke gives the story true beauty with her words. It becomes the story of two women who are completely different, yet fall in love with each other and deal with the truth of their lives.” —AMOS LASSEN

“Not only is Anna Burke in possession of a fine gift for writing in general but also add to that her sensitivity to writing fantasy fiction in which the main characters are women. Anna knows how to write LGBT stories in such a style that the gender factor is purely additive and not the sole reason for the story. Yes, this is a lesbian-centric novel, a factor that enhances the action even more.” —GRADY HARP, Amazon Hall of Fame & Top 50 Reviewer


Thorn is also available in audiobook format at AmazonAudibleACX, and iTunes.


ANNA BURKE graduated from Smith College with degrees in English Literature and Studio Art. She was the inaugural recipient of the Sandra Moran Scholarship for the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Writing Academy and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College. 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. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her wife and their two dogs. You can learn more about her at www.annahburke.com.
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