You GUYS!!! I recently had the opportunity to read Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell so of course I immediately said yes when we were asked to introduce you to both! If you haven’t heard of Garden of Thrones by Amber Mitchell, check out the summary below and be sure to add this to your Goodreads shelves – I flew through it because I couldn’t put it down. With that siad, Amber was nice enough to answer some questions for us so make sure you scroll through to check out the interview and my review!Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell
(Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on March 6th 2017
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.
Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.
Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.
Describe Garden of Thorns in 5 words.
YA fantasy with sweeping romance!
What was the hardest scene for you to write in Garden of Thorns and why?
Well, the hardest emotional scene for me to write is a spoiler, but I will say it’s at the end when something sad happens! The hardest technical scene for me to write was definitely when Rose went in to rescue a young girl in the middle of the book. She has to walk across this tightrope and there is lots of action going on underneath her. It was difficult not to tell what was happening around her and really stick to her perspective. Actions scenes are always difficult for me but I find them to be the most rewarding when they are finished.
Were there any scenes that had to be cut that you wish would have stayed in?
When I was in the middle of edits, I ended up becoming super fascinated with a minor villain named Shears. There was this great scene where he threatened Rose in the middle of the book that truly showed his madness, but it ended up not making too much sense without adding more context and we simply didn’t have time for that. I’m sad it isn’t in the book, but it was better to cut it for pacing.
What do you want your readers to know about Rose?
I think that the most important thing to understand about Rose is that she has had a terrible past and that has made her damaged. She is a mess but I did my best to make her a beautiful mess. Her past factors in every decision she makes throughout the book. I also tried to make her strong, resourceful and clever!
So Rayce is pretty swoony and I know why I like him but what do you think the readers should know about him?
Thanks! I think he’s pretty swoony myself, but I’ve been told I might be biased! The thing that people should know about Rayce, and the thing I like most about him, is that he’s a healer at heart. He goes out of his way to help people and it’s a default setting for him to be kind. He’s like the opposite of the bad boy trope. Plus, the guy can cook!
Did any of your characters surprise you by doing something you didn’t expect?
I’m a plotter so a lot of the book was already crafted before I really dove into the story. That being said, Marin’s character was a complete surprise. I ended up making a female guard for one scene since Rose was surrounded by men and she was a loud mouth, loyal and had a great head on her shoulders. I ended up falling in love with her and she stuck. The other thing that surprised me? She was someone’s sister! As soon as I realized that, a lot of other pieces fell into place including one other secondary character’s motivations. She also happens to be one of my favorites now!
No spoilers but if you had to pick only one, what would you say was your favorite scene to write in Garden of Thorns?
ALL of the romance scenes. I used them as little rewards to get through some of the harder actions scenes. I love my actions scene, they really move the book forward, but I loved getting to watch two broken people find happiness in the middle of a war. My editor actually suggested adding a certain cooking scene into the book and I think it has swiftly become one of my favorites!
Do you have any writing habits or are there any odd things that you need in order to sit down and write?
The oddest habit I have is removing all of my distractions. So before I sit down to write, I have to make sure I have a drink (usually Diet Coke since that is what I run on), a snack, my phone, socks if it is cold. Otherwise, I’m constantly getting up and down to do other things and my writing suffers from it.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
Currently, I’m in the final stages of an Alice in Wonderland retelling. I’ve always loved fairytales, but I didn’t want to write a retelling until I could figure out how to do it justice. I really like this one. I’ve had a lot of fun turning names and things from the story even more on their head. Plus, the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter are love interests and they don’t get along so I’m having a blast writing their dialogue!
Can you share (without spoilers) a line or section of Garden of Thorns that was your favorite?
As I mentioned above, I really like all of the romantic scenes in the book. But I think some of the ones that will stay with you have to do with the Garden and the Flower/Wilted dynamic. These few were added during the last round of edits and I think they are some of my favorites!:
“Her whispers allowed me to forget, until I turned to look at her smiling face and watched a trail of fresh blood drip down her cracked lip. As a Flower, it’s my job to dance. As a Wilted, hers is to keep me in line by paying for my mistakes with her skin. In the Garden, Flowers are low but Wilteds are the dirt beneath our petals, silently keeping our roots alive.”
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I’m almost finished with “As I Darken” by Kiersten White and it is INCREDIBLE. After that, I’ll be reading “Wherever I’m With You” by Lydia Sharp and “Thief of Lies” by Brenda Drake.
- Favorite Song (right now): “I See Fire” by Jasmine Thompson
- Favorite Book (right now): No fair! I guess, “Poison Study” by Maria V Snyder
- Favorite TV Show/Movie: Currently watching “This Is Us” and it’s amazing. Moana was the last movie I fell in love with
- Favorite Word: Whimsical
- Favorite Color: Red
- Favorite Curse Word: F**K, I say it probably more than I should.
This or That
- Coffee or Tea: Tea, all the way!
- E-books or Real Books: Real books. I love the smell of them.
- Cake or Pie: Cake. Even better if it’s a cupcake.
- Dog or Cat: Cat…I only have 4 of them.
- Tattoos or No Tattoos: No tattoos, but I’m getting one this year (even though I’m afraid of blood and needles)
- Beer or Wine: Wine, the sweeter, the better!
As soon as I read the summary of Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell I knew I had to read it. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy and Mitchell had my attention from page one of this book.
Rose is the main character and has spent the last seven years as a slave in the Garden, a burlesque dance troupe. When the Garden is set up to perform for the Emperor, Rose sees an opportunity to escape and she is willing to do whatever she needs to in order to make it happen. Unfortunately for Rose, she chooses the wrong person in the audience to use so she can get out and she ends up being the one held against her wishes.
I love a great character driven story and Mitchell did a fantastic job of getting me to care about these characters. Rose and her Wilted have been together the entire time they have been in the Garden. As a Flower, Rose is directly responsible for anything that happens to her Wilted and almost immediately something happens that forces her to make a decision about her future. One of the things I really liked was that Rose isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes and she keeps secrets. Her biggest secret is the one that ended up getting her captured by the Gardener and it is the one that she continues to try to hide from everyone around her. I couldn’t really blame her for the things she kept hidden…even though I wanted her to tell Rayce everything. She hasn’t had an easy life since she was captured and she has learned just how dangerous and evil some people can be, not just the Gardener and his right hand man, Shears but also those someone she thought was a friend.
Rayce is who Rose ends up trying to use as a hostage in her escape without really knowing that he is the guy who is wanted by the Emperor for leading a rebellion against the Empire. He also happens to be the former heir to the throne and I loved learning more about his background as the story progressed. It is clear he takes his leadership role very seriously and his reasons for going against his uncle have a personal aspect to them. There were so many scenes with Rayce that I loved and most of them revolve around the weight he carries on his shoulders as a leader. Of course, there are some swoony parts that I loved too – I just wish there had been more kissing (yeah, I said it). The relationship that forms between Rose and Rayce isn’t something that happens overnight and there was one quote from Rayce that I highlighted that I thought was a perfect reflection of them both.
“I’m sorry about what happened to you in the past, but I will prove you wrong now. I’m going to make you believe in me, not because I want you to, but because that’s what you need.”
Mitchell did a wonderful job with the secondary characters as well. From Arlo and Marin to the Emperor and the Gardener, all of them were pretty well-developed. The one character in the group that stood out for me was Oren. He was the man who helped Rayce become a leader and he was the one who helped Rose realize what she really needed to do to save the people she loves.
As the story moves forward, there is quite a bit of action and danger. Rayce and Rose make a deal to work together to take down the Emperor and save the rest of the girls, but it doesn’t go smoothly. Of course Rayce is wanted by the Emperor but now Rose’s picture is also on a wanted poster and she is sure that the Emperor knows exactly who she is. Not only does that mean she is in danger but anyone who is with her is too. Never mind that this really complicates any plans she has to save the rest of the girls from the Garden.
Overall I really enjoyed this book – I’m not going to say anything more about the story as I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone. Just know that the characters were well done and the story kept me turning the pages. It is hard to say whether this is a standalone (I hope not!!) or the first of a series. I am interested to see what happens next for these characters and while it ended in a great place, there is definitely more story here – at least from my point of view so I really hope there is another book coming. Regardless, I will be keeping an eye out for more from Mitchell. If you are looking for a new YA Fantasy to read, consider checking this one out when you can, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy!