REVIEW: Thorne by Charlotte McConaghy

Published: 1st Feburary 2016 – in print. Was previously published an ebook in 2014

Publisher: Random House Australia

Pages: 400

Format: Ebook courtesy of the publisher & Netgalley; I’ve since brought the paperback

RRP:$32.99

4/5 Stars

An enthralling romantic fantasy about finding true love against all odds, Thorne is the second book in the Chronicles of Kaya series.

Lovers in Kaya have always died together, bonded in death as in life. But a cure for the bond has sent rumours like wildfire through the land. A team of young Kayans will be sent on a quest to find the answer and, with rebellion brewing, the very nature of love is at stake.

The beautiful but reckless Finn has never shied away from danger, and ending the bond means more to her than anyone knows. This adventure sounds thrilling to her, but Finn has always been willing to risk too much, and for the first time must face the idea that she has something—or someone—to lose.

Crown Prince Thorne, in the neighbouring land of Pirenti, has grown up rejecting the legacy of his father’s blood, keeping caged the beast that lies dormant within. But the moment he sets eyes on the wild girl from the Kayan cliffs, his usual caution hasn’t a hope of surviving.

As the world crumbles around them, can Finn and Thorne cast off the shadows to find a love stronger than either imagined? Or is their true challenge to find a way to embrace the darkness within?

In 2015 I picked up Avery by Charlotte McConaghy on a whim, purely based on it’s stunning cover. With Thorne, the follow up novel in The Chronicles of Kaya series, having been released with another suitably amazing cover, I think it’s fair to say that Charlotte McConaghy has been blessed by the cover fairies at Random House Australia. Seriously, look at that cover. No really, look at it. The sheer intensity of the  model’s eyes and the colouring is simply the best tool I’ve seen to not only make the reader pick up the book in the first place, but to immediately pull the reader into the story. Do her eyes not promise a story full of intrigue and dash of surprise, a romance or two and so much mischief that you know you’re already in trouble? Hands down, that’s exactly what this book delivers.

I’m not going to recap the plot line, because let’s face it, you can read the blurb and learn everything you need to know about the story without a spoiler or two thrown in. What I am going to tell you, is how this book held me captive in much the same way the Pirenti were previously known to hold the Kayans; with brutal honesty and unforgiving plot strikes, and the most epic page-turning narrative that a Pirenti could hope to hold in their hands before dealing the killing ‘the end’ strike. This book had me so caught up inside while reading that I literally had no idea of what was up or down, or even if my house was on fire. So much so, that when I was rudely thrown from it’s final pages and forced back into reality, I didn’t like it one bit. I need the third book Charlotte McConaghy do you hear me, I need the third book right now!

When I requested this book from Netgalley and Random House Australia earlier this year I was a little hesitant about going in. I loved Avery so much that it still remains one of three stand-out novels from 2015. Because of that I was dying to get my hands on Thorne, to dive back into that world, to experience the cultures once again and live amongst some of my favourite characters, but on some level I was afraid that this book wouldn’t live up to it’s predecessor. I was worried that I wouldn’t like it as much as the first one and because of that I held back in my reading.

Unlike Avery, I didn’t instantly connect with Thorne. Part of that was due to my inner self chucking a small tantrum because Thorne was set so far in the future – 20 years after the ending of the first book, to be exact – and because Ava and Ambrose were two characters I desperately wanted to hang out with once more, to find out what life had in store for them post closing of the last book. Another part of me was held back by the slower start to this narrative, unlike Avery where we dived straight into action, Thorne has a slower, more sleepy start as McConaghy lulls us through the 20 years of change. While I understand why all this was done and for what end, as a reader it frustrated me so much and my anxiety about the book grew tenfold. But I persisted, and you know what, I loved this book. Almost as much as the first one once it got going.

Thorne jnr, not to be confused with Daddy Thorne from Avery, is a complex character that McConaghy has gone to great lengths to create. As the book opens he is this timid and shy young man, battling his own inner demons and living in the shadow of his parents’ history. Caring for his mother Roselyn, he is a gentle soul in a giant’s body, and considered somewhat of an anomaly in Piranti, a society that values its brute strength and ruthless nature. When sent into Kaya with secret orders from his Uncle, King Ambrose, he encounters an entirely wild and a little bit feral young woman named Finn who pushes his limits with every encounter the two share, and yet there’s something about this wild, untameable Finn that Thorne finds himself inexplicitly drawn to her. It’s from his interactions with Finn and the subsequent adventure their band of misfits takes on that we see the most development in Thorne. As an outsider, and given his size and status, he is something to be feared. A concept at odds with his very nature as a gentle beast. Unbeknownst to his travel companions however, Thorne harbours a secret self that lurks in the dark and pushes at every bone and muscle in his body begging for release, one that he must suppress at all odds. One that Finn likes to taught just enough to drive Throne’s patience and test his control. I really love the way McConaghy was able to not only present a character that was so clearly defined as having two very different persona’s living in the one body, encompassing the one being that was at war with itself. But also the way, she was able to balance these two sides within Thorne, and the again within the broader context of the narrative and the reader, who she constantly hints just enough at without giving the reader any more than they need to really know at any given moment.

I love the connection Thorne and Finn develop. Right from their first meeting there is this air between them that is undefined, but so questionably odd, that both characters snap to attention only to spend most of the book ignoring it’s immediate existence. In equal measure they taught and push each other to the limit, Finn through her crazy, no brainer act-first-ask-questions-later existence that defies every one of Thorne’s clearly ordered rules and life, and Thorne through his constant questioning and his ability to be so naive about the world around him, and yet see right through to Finn’s soul and not be intimated and put off by her games and barriers that she holds the world at bay with.

As a whole Finn is a such a random character in this narrative, and yet so overly important to its very existence that it simply couldn’t be what it is without her. While Thorne gives the country and narrative heart, it’s Finn who brings it to life, who heightens the stakes and who rams through walls that shouldn’t be possible to breach. Wild, crazy, constantly firing on all engines and with a touch of magic, Finn is a character hard to deny, easy to love and impossible to forget. At first glance I didn’t like Finn; she was too self-centred and careless, bringing trouble right to the doorsteps of everyone she crossed paths with. But as the narrative progressed, I started to see some form of method to her madness, the fragility to her unquestionable strength and cunning, and the unshakable loyalty she has to those she loves. In fact, her whole crazy life is governed simply by that notion alone, the need to keep loved ones safe and to pay back debts owed.

Once again Charlotte McConaghy has delivered a unique and innovative fantasy novel that pushes both the characters and readers beyond our wildest expectations. Part epic adventure, part mystery and part romance, there is something here for every reader, making Thorne one hell of a fantastical page-turner that is sure to keep you up late at night trying to guess what happens next. It’s a high impact, adrenaline fuelled, scream at the page, why did you do that, fall in love, kind of intense read that will leave you with the worlds biggest book hangover imaginable. One that will leave you watching the clock/calender slowly tick over until the release of the third and final book, Isadora later this year.

Honestly McConaghy, you’ve done it to me twice now and I genuinely fear for my emotions and sense of sanity when the third and final book, Isadora, drops on the 18th of August this year. Let’s just say I’ll be racing out and buying that baby the second it’s released.

To learn more about Charlotte McConaghy, visit the following social media pages:

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram |

Goodreads | Random House Australia

To purchase a copy of Thorne, visit the following online retailers:

Booktopia | The Nile | QBDBook Depository | Angus & Robertson Bookworld | Fishpond

To purchase a copy of Avery, visit the following online retailers:

Booktopia | The Nile | QBD | Book Depository | Angus & Robertson Bookworld | Fishpond

2016aww

 

 

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