Alphabet of Thorn ★★★★½

alphabetofthorn (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Alphabet of Thorn
Series: ———-
Author: Patricia McKillip
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 300
Format: Digital Edition



A foundling, named Nepenthe, is working at the royal library. She has a talent for interpreting odd languages. She meets a young mage-in-training named Bourne and gets a book written in an Alphabet of Thorns. She begins to translate the book and it appears to be the story of Axis and Kane, a king and wizard from so long ago that they are only myth.

The more Nepenthe translates, the more confused she becomes. Kane records Axis conquering kingdoms that don’t exist, yet. Nepenthe and Bourne figure out that Kane has figured out how to move through time. And next on the agenda, is the Kingdom that Nepenthe lives in.

During all of this, Bourne’s uncle has risn in insurrection against the new Queen. The Queen, a mousy recluse, must master her own unknown powers while the old Magician who runs the school that Bourne attends, must keep the kingdom from falling apart.

In the end, it is revealed that Nepenthe is the daughter of Axis and Kane but she forces her mother Kane to choose between her and Axis. A life of conquering all in her path or a life of peace. Kane chooses her daughter.


My Thoughts:

This was one of those tough reads. I wanted to shake Nepenthe so much, even knowing she was under the spell of the Alphabet. It was rough watching her keep secrets knowing that if she could only tell someone things would be better.

But other than that, this was another fantastic book. It had the taste of a fairytale with the story of Axis and Kane but it was the old school kind of fairytale, the one with that darker edge. It was mysterious as we the reader didn’t know what was going on or how everything was going to tie together.

Some books you can just rush through and let the story kind of overwhelm you, like eating 5 hamburgers at a picnic. This was not that kind of book. None of McKillips’ books are though.This was a smooth vanilla icecream with a peanutbutter ribbon running through the whole thing. The sweet smoothness of the icecream is offset by the rough saltiness of the peanutbutter. It just doesn’t get any better! Well, chocolate icecream makes it better.





bookstooge (Custom)


26 thoughts on “Alphabet of Thorn ★★★★½

  1. Another McKillip I will certainly read one day, thanks for bringing it to my attention! I mean, I wouldn’t want to eat 5 burgers, but a nice combination of ice cream and peanut butter might be a great idea, when I finally get over my prolonged cold 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I ate 5 hamburgers when I was a teen. Definitely a foray into gluttony for me and not something I hope to ever repeat 😀

      “Definitely stay away from refined sugar until you’re better. Sugar and sickness don’t equal wellness.”
      ~Dr Bookstooge

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe I’ll have more luck with this one than with the one McKillip I’ve read so far, for Winter Rose did not sweep me of my feet. To continue your culinary references, it was like overly caramelized popcorn – too sweet and fluffy, yet at times rather bitter, with no real substance to speak of 😉

    Liked by 1 person

          1. But not before a peanut butter sandwich 😉 I’ll definitely give McKillip another chance, I was impressed with her writing skills, but I’m afraid I might be one of “those people” – the story in Winter Rose just didn’t click for me. It was like reading about mental illness in a very poetic, fairy-tale inspired language. It was beautiful, but ultimately empty.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. If McKillip’s style isn’t for you, then it’s totally not worth forcing yourself. You’ll just hate it even more and then blame the person who recommended you keep on trying.
      Good to know your limitations 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I can’t take complete credit, as that just seems to be the way my mind works. I don’t sit for 30min trying out various analogies and then picking the best one.
      Maybe I should write The Big Book of Analogies and get rich and famous 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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