Bywater Books is pleased to announce that Thorn, Anna Burke’s feminist retelling of Beauty and the Beast has been named to the American Library Association’s 2020 Over the Rainbow Fiction Longlist.


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 the 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.


Praise for Anna Burke’s Thorn

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

“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 RYEThe 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

“This is the first book I’ve read by Anna Burke, and without a shadow of a doubt, it will not be my last—in years to come, I’ll look back and remember the first time I picked this book up and how it left me in awe.” RACHAEL BYRNE, Les Rêveur

“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


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.
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