Release date: 20 July 2020
Author: Morgan Ray
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Paranormal
Pages: Brambles-290, Thorns-206, Thicket-270
Nineteen-year-old Sidney Philips lives in the shadow of her grandmother, a wealthy socialite with towering expectations and a controlling hand. She’s expected to either find a respectable career and marry well, or to simply marry well. Believing she has no choice, Sidney walks the path laid out for her until a destined meeting with a terrifying ghost turns her world upside down. All at once, Sidney is at the center of a curse that has nothing (and everything) to do with her. She’s faced with a terrible choice: marry a ghost and give up her freedom forever, or send him away and force generations to suffer. But, oh, if only it were that simple. Meddling hands have complicated the curse, making a difficult choice impossible. Now, two ghostly men stand before Sidney and choosing one will mean oblivion for the other. The clock is ticking. A choice must be made. Someone must suffer.
The Brambles Series is a coming-of-age story that’s a mash-up of paranormal romance and Sleeping Beauty lore; a delicious blend of drama and action with just a touch of humor that’s perfect for both YA and NA (New Adult) readers.
Thank you to the author for the opportunity to read and review this series.
I’m reviewing the series as a whole but will include some opinions on each book belows this. So, first thing: I honestly love the author’s ability to write descriptively enough that I have no problem imagining the people and places in my head. I saw everything and that is often rare when reading fantasy. I loved some of the banter between the characters and the jokes and humor found along the way. As a loose fairy tale retelling of Sleeping Beauty, I was immediately on board.
However, I just didn’t really vibe with this series for a few reasons. The first book started off so well and I was hooked. The concept of the curse and the ghosts, plus aunt Zandie!, really was a good time! But then it was a love triangle, which I despise completely unless they are done right. Then it turned into a love pentagon and I was out as far as the romance was concerned. None of the relationships were genuine, insta-like was on high and any soft moments between any of the other people and the main heroine were overshadowed by her thoughts of the other people. She caused me such whiplash that I was honestly surprised any of them stuck around. I mean I get it, there were a lot of contributing factors to why everyone was flocking towards her but it was just honestly too much.
- Brambles: This book started out so well! I was really invested and read the first 50% in a day. I liked the backstory of the curse and the concept of ghosts but did not dig the love triangle. I did not dig the insta-love. I did not dig the back and forth feelings she had between them and I get that’s how triangles work but this was a mess. Sidney turned quickly into a very selfish and judgemental girl. She taunted Dorian about Rosalind. She would call people out without taking the time to hear or understand their side of the coin. She just really bothered me and I lost a lot of the initial love I had for the start of the book.
I love aunt Zandie and Carl. She is so chaotic and passionate that you can’t help but feel some of her excitement. I liked Thorax however I honestly felt like Sidney was a bit too mean to him despite his general attitude. As it turns out, he serves a bigger role later on and it makes their hatred that much more confusing. The whole business with the grandmother was bizarre and I think I understand why it was the way it was, I don’t know, I just didn’t care for it.
As I naturally do, I gravitated towards the “villain” of the two men. You could easily tell one was manipulating and insincere and that the other was, while sometimes crass and rude, was genuine. I didn’t like the way he was treated at all and it didn’t endear me to any of the characters who treated him so harshly. Then a third guy comes in who proposes to her after 30 minutes, to which her grandmother (who is present) accepts on her behalf with no argument or anything from Sidney. I get the overall reason it happened but this was a pointless addition to an already complicated romance situation. For someone with such a strong opinion of herself, she really shrinks back in pretty much anything involving her making decisions.
Overall, I gave this book 4 stars because I genuinely did enjoy most of the book other than some things which I didn’t expect to carry on in the rest of the series. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
- Thorns: This was a chaotic book. So much new stuff happened that compounded on an already dense plot line. We deal with absent fathers and demons and succubi plus witches and what kind of felt like a forced bisexual relationship that added to the growing list of people who wanted her. The continued back and forth between Reggie and Dorian was so incredibly frustrating. I get there were some reasons why these relationships were moving along like they were but her incredibly obnoxious habit of “I like you! I hate you! I fell for you! I don’t know who you even are!” was so completely frustrating. Then you add Sam and it’s like, she’s the one and the other two can hop right off.
The whole succubi thing was..intense. The author did well building her personality change gradually so it wasn’t as much of a shock but it just took all of her worst personality qualities and tripled them. I honestly considered calling it quits but I still had some connection to the story. I think the thing I hated the most was how she used and treated Dorian. Though also, Dorian kinda did a 90* turn and he was painted to be a pretty big asshole. This was not the character I met in the first book or even the first part of this one. I don’t blame him honestly because the way she treated him, I would just want to get her over and done with so the curse could be over and he could run far away. I still can’t with Reggie. He’s so suspish.
Definitely not enough Zandie in this book. I gave this book 3 stars.
- Thicket: Oi. This was also a chaotic book. I’m still not liking this pentagon thing. All the relationships felt forced and Sidney started to get really petty with all of them. I feel like her character has gone downhill over the course of the series and that upsets me. It’s very clear that Dorian is never going to get over Rosalind and frankly, I get it. Sidney is a poor substitute and she throws it in his face a lot that she’s not the same girl. Sweetie, trust me, he gets that you aren’t the greatest love of his life..stop taunting him and messing with his emotions. It’s just not nice.
The ending felt soooo rushed. It was like, big thing resolved and then one week later where she recalls the events of what happened between-but in like short summary form and it makes no sense to me. Where did everyone go? Why did they go? It really just kinda..ended. Like, hi and goodbye. Prior to the big event, why on earth was she still following her grandmother’s ridiculous life plan? You’ve done such big girl things throughout three books and you still can’t tell her to jump right off a cliff? Help me understand!
Again, I compliment this author for excellent world building and descriptive text. The imagery I was able to create was really helpful in immersing in the story. I gave this story 2 stars because it just fell really flat for me.
Look, this isn’t a bad series by any means. I think this author has done really well creating this world and her prose is on point. I loved the concept of the plot but I think along the lines it got too filled up and there was so much going on everywhere it was hard to keep up. The heroine was just not my favorite and I didn’t love how she treated Reggie and Dorian. I think Dorian was by far the most interesting character and I feel like a lot more could have been done to really make him shine. I would have loved to have in-depth backgrounds on both men, like what their lives were like prior to the curse. What did they do? What did they love? What were their aspirations? I think this would have added a lot more dimension to their characters and I would have connected with them more. I didn’t like the insta-like and while I recognize why it happened, none of her connection to either of them ever made much sense. One had a better personality than the other and seemed like the obvious choice. I won’t say how it goes. This series, for the most part, just wasn’t for me but I think could resonate with other readers. We are all different and what and expect different things from what we read. I would love to see what else this author puts out in the future!