Violet Sterling has grown up knowing she would be Caretaker of Burleigh House. When that destiny is twisted from her grasp, when the King attempts to warp her future and Burleigh itself is in danger, she must find a way to save itself and the Western Country form the magic that is overflowing and poisoning the land.
Betrayal, sacrifice, heartbreak.
Burleigh House encompasses everything. Welcome home.
_ _ _ _ _
I fell in love with Laura E. Weymouth’s writing and the way she can draw you into the natural world with her debut The Light Between Worlds. In that moment she became an auto-read author and when I read the description for her sophomore novel about a sentient house, I knew it would be another adventure of epic proportions.
The depths of commitment, what it means to be loyal, to be chosen, and what destiny means…these questions and more are put to the characters of A Treason of Thorns, Violet Sterling most of all as she grapples with trying to save not only her beloved House, but all those it affects with its monumental power.
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Published: 10 September 2019
Genre(s): Fantasy/Young Adult/Historical FIction
Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.
Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.
When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.
Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.
Content warnings: The Light Between Worlds portrays characters dealing with depression, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, illness and disordered eating, and the loss of a loved one. It refers to possible suicide, contains scenes of violence and war, and brief mentions may be unsettling to readers with emetophobia. If you have any questions about these warnings, or require more details, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact page on the author’s website.
Rep: SCs central to the MC who are Jewish & holidays that are celebrated throughout
Animal injury (not a pet), blood, violence, repeated use of the word “s*v*ge”, gorey imagery
Laura E. Weymouth has such a command of her writing when it comes to nature and how it interacts with humanity. Burleigh at the height of its power within the book and even during the worst of its decline is a thing of beauty and heartbreak, a bittersweet monument that loves the hero of the story, Violet, with as much passion as she loves it.
Burleigh isn’t just the house one would think and a reader doesn’t just get descriptions of bedrooms or sitting areas, but the whole of the property and the countryside that is Burleigh, warts and all. Whether it’s the niceties of it or the mortar seeping from it and breaking your heart on the way out, it’s easy to see how Violet, having lived her for the whole of her life, could be faithful to it. Seeing this place, seeing things grow and respond to her, it wasn’t just words, it was a feeling.
Religion is a quiet undercurrent in A Treason of Thorns, but that makes it no less important, either to the reader or to the characters whose faith being read about. Jed and Mira practice their Jewish faith, even while in the road under less than ideal circumstances and concerned about others’ eyes. Violet reminisces about Shabbats she spent with them, the light & the food. She too attends services for her own faith while on the road (Church of England).
The fight about familial duty versus personal destiny that manifested when Violet’s parents were arguing over their daughter and her duty to Burleigh versus what was best for her personally. It was interesting to see a classic argument play out and what it meant: the sacrifices, how Violet chose even as a young child, how Burleigh influenced those around and in it.
Violet was a strong character from the start and I loved her: how she fought for her House, her wants, the destiny she believed in. She didn’t suffer fools, whether they were a curate who wanted her hand in marriage or the King himself. She had her weaknesses, possible in the allowances she made when it came to Burleigh, but these were part of what made her human: she wasn’t wholly angelic or devilish. She was, as she says herself:
I’m not just Violet Sterling, Caretaker of a failing House. I am the sum of everywhere and everything I’ve been.
(As this was a 5 Star read, Didn’t Enjoy doesn’t quite apply, so these are more “hm” things I came across while reading A Treason of Thorns.)
There were hints about other Houses around the world and how the handling of them is different from that of the situation in England, from their control to what happens when one grows out of control. There was an allusion to one in Italy whose magic I’m almost certain cause Mount Vesuvius to erupt. The sheer scope of magic around the world is tantalizing, but it makes me wonder at whether there are more details that we could see in the future. A Treason of Thorns is wholly encapsulated in England with only briefs asides to these other Houses and systems. I would have loved to hear more or even see chapters where someone visited them, even if it couldn’t be Violet or present company for reasons.
Romantically, I wasn’t wholly convinced of the relationship that developed between Violet and Wyn. I understand that a strong relationship could form and probably would, given how long they were together and the things they went through and the strong attachments that Violet formed to the people she took to herself, but I never really felt that romantic aspect of their relationship. Being told it, I kind of shrugged and said “okay, sure.” It’s not bad, so to speak, just “meh” for my part.
Laura E. Weymouth has done it again and crafted a story that I would like to live in. Seriously, sign me up to take care of an ancient House that may or may not have a portal to the Woodlands somewhere on the property and I will be a happy person.
The magic, the love of a monster/monstrous…thing?, sacrificing…omg, I’m just waiting to read this all over again.
To me, my House always been both more and less than that. Burleigh, like Wyn, is simply this: both family, and a friend.
Because what Uncle Edgar doesn’t notice as he turns his attention back to his pudding is that when I smile at him, it looks like murder.
“I don’t have to be safe,” I tell her. “I have to do my job, as someone who’s meant to be Burleigh’s Caretaker.
I used to look after him, and now things seem to be the other way around. I don’t like it. It makes me feel like a burden, and I’ve always hated to inconvenience anyone else.
Most wicked men are at least straightforward—unwieldy clubs that bludgeon you with their ill will and brute strength. But His Majesty the king is a dagger in the night, wielded with a smile.
“…folk recognize a devil in fine clothes when they see one.”
I know my duty, but that doesn’t keep all of this from feeling like more than I should have to bear. And it doesn’t make me any less afraid.
Someday, I will die for Burleigh House. It’s only become a matter of when.
“…some people are worth it. They’re worth giving up everything you thought you wanted. And Espie’s not just the princess of Wales to me, or even the girl I love. She’s home.”
“I suppose I never feel as if I should have the luxury. If I’m to be queen someday, I ought to rise when my subjects do, and the fishermen set out to sea an hour ago. The farmers have already milked their cattle. The tin miners are at their pitches. Who am I to lie abed?”
“The world is full of men who want things, and never question their right to go after them.” Esperanza’s eyes spark, and she leans forward in her chair. “Why should we feel any less worthy than they do, so long as what we want does no harm?”
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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