Alphabet of Thorn

Opening line: ‘On Dreamer’s Plain, the gathering of delegations from the Twelve Crowns of Raine for the coronation of the Queen of Raine looked like an invading army.’

No one knows what to make of the young queen, not even the queen herself. Her father’s trusted advisors try to educate the queen about her new role as sovereign, all the while worrying about the tensions and factions between the Twelve Crowns. Meanwhile, in the depths of the Royal Library, a transcriptor begins translating a book written in a strange alphabet of thorns. As Nepenthe becomes ever more obsessed with her thorns, the Dreamer King wakes to warn of danger to Raine. But what harm can come from reading a book?

Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKilip is yet another example of McKilip’s beautiful prose and lyrical story-telling. How can one not love the setting of the Royal Library, built deep into caverns upon caverns beneath the castle on a cliff so high that one cannot hear the sea at the bottom of it? Interwoven into the story of Nepenthe and the queen of Raine is the story of Axis and Kane from the book Nepenthe is translating. Once again, I enjoyed McKilip’s artistry with writing magic that is both mysterious and natural and creating characters who are personable. The ending was perhaps a bit rushed, a bit too quickly tied together, but it was a good read overall.

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