Cover Image: The Path of Thorns

The Path of Thorns

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Member Reviews

I requested this book thinking that it seemed like a perfect gothic read - and I was almost right. Very atmospheric, but the slow start threw me off a little too much to rate this one any higher.
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DNF
This was my first book from Slatter, and unfortunately it just wasn’t for me. The blurb had me intrigued but that’s pretty much where my interest ended. I struggled with the stilted old English and the pacing was super slow.
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This was amazing. Hands down a top read for 2022. This story is filled with witches, werewolves, ghosts, and, scariest of all, terrible parents. It asks an almighty question: what would you do for your mother's love? Asher learns the answer the hard way, finding unlikely allies and surprise new enemies along the way. I never knew where this story was going to go and I love every turn of it. If you are looking for escapism fantasy, this isn't it. But if you want a truly twisted, deep, imaginative take on the power of blood, The Path of Thorns is what you're looking for.

**Thank you NetGalley and Titan Books for the eARC**
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A lovely twist on Grimm vibe fairy tales.

Like many reviewers, I agree this book had a very slow start and I was tempted to DNF. The author's purpose of keeping the reader in the dark for the story twist, while understandable, combined with the slowness might cause some readers to blow it off 1/4 the way in. Understandable but it does get good if you can hold out.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Titan Books for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 rounding up to 5 stars for GoodReads. The first 20% of this book, I was very close to DNFing. I wasn’t sure what was going on or what the point of the story was. But once you get over that initial hump of confusion, the story becomes clear and fascinating. I was so enraptured with Asher Todd and her story, especially how she was going to get out of the situation she was it. I’m not sure if the beginning would be less confusing to people who have read this author before (as the works are loosely related as far as I can tell) but this was my first novel by this author. I now want to read all of the other connected works in this universe. I think it is an interesting gothic world Slatter created and I don’t want to leave it. Definitely will be looking for more of this author’s works in the future.
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Gripping and dark, a mesmerizing new fairy tale.

I know I called it a fairy tale, but just to be clear this is not a fairy tale re-telling. It is wholly original, but is very much in keeping with the vibe of a good gothic fairy tale. It is dark and dangerous. The main character Asher Todd is a conundrum. While the reader grows to like her a great deal, and even root for her, you also know that her motivations are … complicated to say the least. She is an untrustworthy narrator, and you get the feeling is not on the side of the angels. But then again, I don’t think anyone in this story is. Doesn’t matter. I like her.

The book is very atmospheric. The vibe feels akin to halfway through Jane Eyre’s nights wandering through the darkness of Thornfield Hall, when the reader didn’t know the whole story and the madwoman in the attic was still a thing of mystery and terror.

The author also sprinkles little tales throughout the book that give you a hint as to what is really going on in the plot and I found myself genuinely excited when I saw the font change and I knew a new side story was about to unfold.

In other words, this is a 5 star book for me and the creepy feel means I have already pinned it on my TBR for a re-read when fall comes and I need something a little spooky. Ms. Slatter has become an auto-buy for me.
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PLOT: A mysterious woman named Asher Todd shows up at an estate for the Morwood family, claiming to be the new governess; however it is evident she has her own agenda— one that she is desperate to keep. As the story unfolds, we learn that Ms. Todd has no prior experience in being a governess, but she does have experience with botany/herbcraft, and perhaps something more sinister. Though her mission is revenge, and she’s determined to fulfill a promise she made to her mother, she finds herself with mixed emotions. Ms. Todd didn’t anticipate actually liking the children, nor did she foresee liking the people in the Tarn… or falling for a shapeshifter. 

 As the story progresses, we learn more about Asher Todd’s past, her less than optimal family dynamics, as well as how she acquired her talents. As Ms. Todd tries to follow through with her mission, dark secrets from the Morwood family begin to surface— complicating everything. Can Ms. Todd fulfill her promise without losing herself? Can Ms. Todd unravel all the lies and deception in time to save her own life?

REVIEW: The book started off a little slow, but does gain traction. Initially, the author purposely leaves you in the dark as to why Asher Todd shows up to the manor out of the blue to take on the role of the new governess, and she also hides the mission; this is quite strategic on the authors part, and I found it kept me interested and speculating about what happened in the past.

As the story unravels, the author reveals snippets of new information about Asher, the Morwoods, her mother, and the people of the Tarn. I found myself really empathizing with Asher, as she truly does mean well, and she does so much good for the people of the Tarn, and the Morwood family. I could also empathize because when I was a child, I also had a less than ideal relationship with my mother. In the end, I found myself wanting Asher to get HER happy ending, as she deserves nothing less. 

Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
(Review will be up on IG soon— @slowerlowerliving)
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*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*

Great haunting gothic tale - loved the atmosphere of it.  Going to find more books by this author!
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As someone who usually reads romance, it surprised me how much I loved this book. I love dark Fairytale retellings, and The Path of Thorns had the perfect amount of everything in it - even a bit of a romantic storyline!

I breezed through this in a day, and I regret NOTHING. Asher Todd is one of my favourite MCs of the year.
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This was a fantastic surprise of a read. I was hooked by the pitch of this as a gothic fantasy, and was not expecting it to lean into the toxic family dynamics part of gothic fantasy as hard as it did, to amazing effect. I also ended up mainlining the back half of this over the space of an evening, originally bc I wanted to reach x chapters, but then just kept going bc I wanted to know how the fuck this was going to turn next. Slatter weaves an amazing mystery, a truly douchebaggy family across generations, and the people who are just trying to survive them all, our main included. If you’ve been in an abusive family situation, you’ll be able to feel the tension on your own skin at times. Slatter also includes lots of rewritten subtly rewritten fairy tales that serve as a framing device throughout the book. Pick this up in August, you’ll be in for a hell of a treat.
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Wow. This book was effortless.

We follow Asher Todd, new governess to the children who live on Morwood Grange, as she navigates a dysfunctional family, earns the trust of the townsfolk, and uncovers the complicated history of this remote estate. Oh, and she has her own darkness to hide and promises to complete.

The Path of Thorns was dark, gothic and witchy - full of revenge, murder, ghosts, and dark family secrets. If you are a fan of dark fantasy, that feeling of horror that lingers around every dark corner, then this is perfect story to cuddle up with. It won't disappoint.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this advanced reader copy. I will definitely be checking out other books by A.G. Slatter.
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I'm a big fan off all things Grimm Fairytales and this book gave me those vibes with a bit of the authors own twist. I enjoyed it and would read more by this new to me author!
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Even the most unassuming of covers can contain a gem of a book. Something I love about fantasy novels is that since the author is building the world, the “world” is essentially their oyster. You can take a little from this time period, some from that folklore, some from that mythology, a smidge from this culture, a splash from that religion… you get my meaning. This is how we build fantasy worlds. All genre authors stand on the shoulders of giants going all the way back to the most epic of stories such as Gilgamesh. 

A.G. Slatter is unembarrassed to admit she has plucked from quite a few different plants and bushes to form the bouquet that creates the world “The Path of Thorns” is set in. She took great care in her planning, research, selection, and execution, because the result of this meticulous worldbuilding is indeed a fantastic story mashup that is the love child of two Romantic authors: Charlotte Bronte and Mary Shelley. Indeed, Slatter’s storyline is summed up by the author herself as “Jane Eyre meets Frankenstein”. The result is an absolutely brilliant and engaging storyline of a young cunning woman who impersonates a dead woman in order to infiltrate her mother’s ancestral home as a governess in order to destabilize the power structure and avenge her mother’s death. There’s a lot more to the plot than that, but oh! The spoilers! Knowing less going in is definitely for the best when reading this book. I went in after only reading the blurb and loved that. 

My favorite part of the book, aside from the morally gray and chaotic neutral main character who is, in turns, completely in her element one moment and in way over her head the next, are the stories and fairy tales that are told from time to time within the book. They are beautifully written in a unique and dark manner, truer to the form of classic oral tradition tales than the ones that eventually got sanitized and written down. They are cautionary tales, meant to warn people about the dangers of the world and to make themselves more self-aware. Sometimes they run directly into a territory I like to call, “You need to check yourself.”

The cast is colorful, unique, and deeply flawed. Even the children have their flaws, though they are the flaws of children and can be easily forgiven. 

It’s truly a diverting and entertaining read. I wished it had gotten darker, but maybe that’s because I always want things to get darker when it comes to magic and gothic fantasies. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Titan Books for granting me early access to this title in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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“‘A woman’s life is the path of thorns,’ I say. ‘We walk through it, our feet will always hurt.’”

A great gothic fantasy! Asher Todd has made a promise to her mother, and accepts a governess position for the Morwood family. But Asher has many secrets, as do many of the others living on the Morwood estate.

This book is full of witches and werewolves and magic. Asher’s trapped by her promise to her mother and bears the weight of the expectations her mother has placed upon her. The governess before Asher mysteriously disappeared, and Asher had promised the girl’s mother that she would go to Morwood and find out the truth. Asher has an ulterior motive for going to Morwood, and works on both of her missions simultaneously. But Asher’s past begins to haunt her as she tries to find answers while concealing her true identity, and although Asher does a great deal of good, she is not a stranger to a darker magic. 

This book does a fantastic job of showing the readers what’s happening and letting them figure it out instead of telling them directly. We don’t know everything about Asher, and have the opportunity to figure her out as the book progresses. It’s a fantastic standalone fantasy!!!
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Another winning story from Angela Slatter!! Full of misty, gothic feels, wolves, magic and a truly dysfunctional family, The Path of Thorns is a captivating story. Asher Todd has come to the Morwood estate to be governess to the children of Luther and Jessamine Morwood. Asher is not a trained governess but instead a skilled herbalist and practitioner of dark magic. She also has a bevy of secrets and plans for the members of the Morwood family. But as Asher gets to know the children, the other servants, and peoples of the local town, her plans get thoroughly complicated and more complex than she could have ever imagined. 

I was immediately hooked by the story. I love the combination of Victorian era style, plus old magic, fairy tales and the right amount of creepiness to keep you thoroughly entertained by the tale. The complex layering of secrets and reveals make it another delicious tale to enjoy!!

Thanks to Titan Books and Netgalley for the ARC.
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Haunting, atmospheric and lyrical The Path of Thorns is an moving tale of family and revenge. This book reads very much like a dark fairy tale and will suck you in with it's twisted secrets and compelling main character. 

We follow Asher, who comes to  to live with the mysterious Morwood family as a governess to their children. With a monstrous revenge in mind, Asher plans to take down the family from the inside. However, she becomes fond of her charges, of the people of the Tarn, and she begins to wonder if she will be able to execute her plan – and who will suffer most if she does. But as the ghosts of her past become harder to control, Asher realises she has no choice.
 
I had never read anything by this author before and was very pleasantly surprised with this one!! I love gothic feeling horror with lots of witchcraft and an old family with secrets and a borderline haunted house - so this really ticked all my boxes! The writing was also stunning; it created the perfect creepy atmosphere whilst still maintaining a very human sense of empathy with Asher and her story. 

The relationships Asher has with the different characters in the book are all fascinating to explore. The children she looks after are very precious and it is interesting to see how they treat Asher vs how they treat their mother/father and I think the author has an excellent insight into abusive relationships and places of safety. Also the relationship Asher has with her own mother (who may or may not be a ghost lol) is so intriguing and compelling and I think beautifully highlights the often complex relationships between mothers and daughters with the expectations, conflicting intentions and generational trauma. 

I also liked the brief hint of romance and how this influenced Asher and her decisions. I also really liked the banter they had and was surprisingly invested despite it only having a little bit of page time. 

The subtle hints of magic and witchcraft woven throughout the story are excellently done and fit in perfectly with the rest of the story, adding to and compounding the tension and stakes. I also loved certain family/town secrets with certain supernatural creatures that made me enjoy the story even more. 

Overall I would highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of haunting prose, witchy horror, complex family dynamics with a lot of dark secrets slowly revealed and very well written characters.
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Not my style. Very lengthy and long winded. Would not recommend if you’re a fan of quick paced stories.
I also found it strange that it’s in present tense. It feels awkward to read.
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First with All the Murmuring Bones and now with The Path of Thorns, Slatter has established herself as the undisputed queen of the gothic fantasy novel, at least in this reader’s eyes. What a novel!

The Path of Thorns is a novel absolutely steeped in atmosphere. From the opening pages, it is wonderfully dark tale filled to the brim with secrets. There’s a mystery that unfurls slowly across the pages, with the author taking care to reveal just enough to build intrigue. With callbacks to Jane Eyre (think less wife in the attic, more supernatural entity in the attic) as well as stories pulled from the author’s previous collections set in the same universe, the bones of a rich, fairytale world are ready for the gothic meat Slatter is so adept at bestowing upon her stories.

Slatter excels at injecting her fantasy world with a healthy dose of feminism that is especially obvious through our protagonist, Asher Todd. Asher is a strong, resourceful character who is more than a little bit morally grey. Throughout the plot, she is loyal to her mother while also examining the generational trauma behind that devotion. She doesn’t hesitate to take a lover, and doesn’t apologize for using her wits to better the situations of those around her even knowing that it could spell her demise. In addition to Asher, it’s also refreshing to see that all of the women are complex, well fleshed out characters while the men are largely defined by their flaws or their connections to the women.

The Path of Thorns is a slow burning story that may not be to every reader’s taste, but it’s well worth it to see how the plot will play out. From the characters to the setting to the folklore, every piece of this book is meticulously crafted to blend seamlessly with Slatter’s atmospheric prose. This has definitely catapulted Slatter onto my auto-buy author list, and I highly recommend giving her works a read if you’re even a tiny bit intrigued by gothic fantasy.
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My thanks to Titan Books for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Path of Thorns’ by A.G. Slatter.

While its cover initially drew my attention, it was full of elements that I love: spooky Gothic houses, witchcraft, fairy tales, and even wolves, 

Last spring I had read Slatter’s gothic fantasy, ‘All the Murmuring Bones’, and adored it. She announced at the conclusion that she was working on another novel set in the same fictional world, that she has named Sourdough. 

So a few details: Asher Todd comes to Morwood Grange as a governess to the family’s children. She actually doesn’t know very much about being a governess and has her own agenda for taking the position. She is skilled in both botany and herbcraft, though also in magic (though she keeps knowledge of this to herself).

Indeed, Asher has a number of dark secrets, including a plan for revenge. However, over time she becomes fond of the children under her care and of the people of the village of Morwood Tarn. This causes her to question her mission though the ghosts of her past may prove too strong to resist. No further details to avoid spoilers.

I felt that Asher Todd was a wonderful lead character/narrator and I was completely caught up in her story. 

In her Author’s Note A. G. Slatter identifies the origins of the fantastical tales that she has woven into the narrative. Some were originally published in her short story collections and magazines and four were newly written for this novel. 

Her version of Red Riding Hood and other Wolf-themed tales had echoes for me of Angela Carter’s lupine fairy tales and indeed this award-winning Australian author has been compared to Carter; though I feel that she is worthy of acclaim in her own write 😻 given the power of her lyrical prose, approach to the retelling of fairy tales, and rich storytelling skills.

Overall, I loved ‘The Path of Thorns’. It proved a beautifully written, atmospheric Gothic fantasy. I will be looking forward to A.G. Slatter’s future projects as well as exploring her earlier works written under the name Angela Slatter. 

Highly recommended.
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The Path of Thorns is a gothic fantasy in a world a little bit darker, more magical, and more sinister than ours. The story follows a new governess at a remote estate where the pervious governess disappeared mysteriously. Nothing can go wrong, right? This is by the same author as All the Murmuring Bones, which is set in the same universe and has the same spooky vibes as this book. I was very excited to early review this book and it did not disappoint!

I felt all of the spine tingles while reading this book. It's just the right bit of spooky, unsettling, and chilling. The story unspools in a way that made me excited to find out what was going to happen next. It was very much not what I expected based off of the cover with much more gothic horror. Very much Jane Eyre meets Frankenstein like the author mentioned in the afterword. I thought the story dragged a little in the middle but I really enjoyed the ride regardless!

Overall, I had a great time reading this book and recommend it to anyone who wants something a little spooky and a modern take on a gothic horror. 5 stars from me. Thank you to Titan Books and NetGalley for the electronic advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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