Sixteen-year-old Mattalina Thorn grows up believing that she is one third of a typical 21st century family. Her mother leaves the military to start a life coaching and security agency with Mattalina’s aunt, after the latter decides that she no longer wants to be a counselor for the wealthy. All is perfect for Mattalina. Until right before her seventeenth birthday, when someone takes a knife to her aunt’s face; no one is telling Mattalina why.
Bran Van Dyke knows he is different from most eighteen-year-olds. While other boys his age graduate from high school, play sports and perhaps flirt, Bran is training to become the protector of the family to whom the Van Dykes owe their freedom. He likes his role in life, and when he gets reacquainted with the youngest—and most excitable—of the Thorns, Bran goes from liking his role to absolutely loving it.
But in war, love and Stories things are rarely what they seem. In Thorn in Red, typical becomes uncanny very quickly: reality is crafted by imagination; tradition uses fresh and deadly methods to preserve the old ways; Matt and Bran enter a realm where life and progress depend on death, on the reshaping of ancient lore, and on the heart of a couple of teenagers
This is a novella, where explanations are short, but this is one of those times where that is not a problem (it actually adds to the telling, rather than detracting). In the run up to her seventeenth birthday, lots of weird things start happening, leading to seeing her aunt with her face slashed. Her mother hurries her to the Van Dykes for protection, and Matt objects until she finds out what Bran has been up to since they last met (primarily turning into a really rather sexy 18 year old).
Mattalina and Bran then have to go on the run, trying to evade the people after them, and Mattalina soon learns what it’s like to be a Story Teller, and memory is rarely reliable. Things her mother told her as stories when she was a child are in fact real, and it seems her family tried to protect her in the “Little Red Riding Hood” stories but to no avail (the colour red is important here).
Situations change, timelines move, and you never know who your friends really are. Since no time is needed or wasted setting up new worlds, then it is easy to shift between ages and scenarios and whilst this is a *tad* confusing, it’s not to the detriment of the book – it’ll be good to read other additions to this world.
If you want a short read of a book full of potential, this is it!