Title: Sting of Thorns
Author: Kristen Brand
Series: Dark and Otherworldly
Publication Date: Sept. 15, 2020
Synopsis: The fight is over, and Leigh Morgan won. After spending months spying in Otherworld as a servant, she’s rescued the humans who were abducted by the Others and sent them safely home. She had to stay behind to destroy the gateway between worlds and keep them safe, but tough luck. She’s prepared to pay the price.
But she didn’t expect the curse the queen of Otherworld lays on her: a thorny vine growing under Leigh’s skin that will kill her when it reaches her heart. The queen will lift the curse…if Leigh uses her connections in the human realm to locate a magical weapon lost hundreds of years ago.
To ensure she succeeds, the queen sends her son, Dredarion Rath, the cunning prince Leigh had to betray to save her people. With anger and hurt still fresh, they can barely stand to be in the same room together, much less cooperate on such a dangerous mission. But as Leigh’s friends risk everything to help her, she’ll have to find a way to reconcile with Dredarion before their quest gets her and everyone she cares about killed.
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Sting of Thorns is the second book in the urban fantasy series Dark and Otherworldly and picks up where Poison and Honey left off. Leigh succeeded in rescuing humans from the Otherworld but had to remain behind to ensure no one else got through the gateway. Captured and imprisoned for her role, Leigh resigns herself to her fate but regrets that she hurt Dredarion in the process.
The queen (Dredarion’s mother) orders Leigh to return to the human world and find an ancient weapon that will help them in a brewing war. To ensure Leigh does it, the queen curses her and charges Dredarion to accompany Leigh on her quest. Now, with a thorny vine growing inside of her and an angry prince by her side, Leigh must find the long-lost weapon before it’s too late.
In my review of Poison and Honey, the first book in this series, I said that Kristen Brand is my favorite new-to-me author. After Sting of Thorns, I stand by that assertion. Kristen Brand is a storyteller who weaves fascinating, fantastical stories with rich characters, immersive world-building, and swoon-worthy romances.
Though the first story takes place mostly in Dredarion’s world, in this book, the setting varies between the human realm and the Otherworld. Dredarion is comically out of his element in the human realm, and he is bewildered by so many new experiences, people, and objects. It is fascinating to see our world from his perspective, especially his awe and amazement over simple things like cars, phones, and more. It is also wonderful to see him slowly building relationships with Leigh and her friends. Dredarion has never felt that sense of belonging and community, so to see him experience these things for the first time is lovely.
When Leigh, Dredarion, and Leigh’s friends re-enter the Otherworld, a brewing war has escalated, and their search for the weapon intensifies. Their quest leads them to new places in the Otherworld, each as vivid and immersive as the one before. Between the search for the weapon, Leigh’s killer curse, and a few twists that I did not see coming, the world, plot, and character-building are masterful. Plus, there’s the romance!
Leigh and Dredarion have an epic enemies-to-lovers romance. The tension, the chemistry, and that deep longing – I love every part of their tumultuous relationship. Leigh and Dredarion connect on a visceral level, and every interaction is laden with yearning and desire. This is a couple with the cards stacked against them. Their relationship is complicated, and many people don’t understand or approve, but they continue to be a couple to root for. I love the way they feel about each other and the fact that, even though they resist and are afraid, they can’t escape the depth of their feelings and their desire to be together. They are two wounded people who are drawn together and watching their feelings change, develop, swirl, and blossom is my favorite part of the story.
Let’s check out some of their swoon-worthiest moments:
He felt her hand hesitantly touch his. He stilled, all other sensations fading into trivial nothingness before the soft pressure atop his glove. Then, as carefully as he would turn the pages in a thousand-year-old spell book, he moved his hand to clasp hers.Dredarion
Dredarion’s gaze felt like a fire heating every inch of her body, and holy hell, she might have to talk about her feelings more often if it made him look at her like that.Leigh
Speaking of Leigh’s friends, can I talk about how much I love Garrett, Salvador, Wendy, and Tariq? They are a great group that works seamlessly together. Each has something different to offer, whether it be their technological savvy, their military prowess, or their wisdom, and though they are distinctly unique, they all share common qualities, including kindness, strength, generosity, and a fierce desire to protect the vulnerable. Plus, their witty banter and genial camaraderie is so funny! I’m not sure which I found more humorous – when Wendy hugs and threatens Dredarion at the same time, or when Tariq tries to fist-bump him.
If you haven’t read Poison and Honey, the first book in the Dark and Otherworldly series, I recommend that you read it first. Sting of Thorns is not really a standalone. However, it is a fantastic series and totally worth the read, especially if you like fantasy stories with fierce female protagonists and an epic enemies-to-lovers romance! Thanks so much to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Check out my review of Poison and Honey, the first story in the Dark and Otherworldy series. It’s a fantastic urban fantasy/romance!
- The romance, of course! I love Leigh and Dredarion and enjoyed watching their complicated relationship develop.
- The other wonderful relationships. Leigh’s friends are fantastic additions to the story!
- The writing style. Brand’s writing is immersive and engaging, and I can’t wait to read more of her stories!
- The side characters. I loved Leigh’s friends and am hoping to see more of them in future books.
He could recite odes to her for hours and still feel lacking.
Feelings were the worst. She needed to go back to repressing hers.
Sometimes the lies people chose to tell were more revealing than the truth.