A.G. Slatter ~ The Path of Thorns
Alone in the world, Asher Todd travels to the remote estate of Morwood Grange to become governess to three small children. Her sole possessions comprise a sea chest and a large carpet bag she hangs onto for dear life. She finds a fine old home, its inhabitants proud of their lineage and impeccable reputation, and a small village nearby.
It seems an untroubled existence, yet there are portraits missing from the walls, locked rooms, and names excised from the family tree inscribed in the bible. In short order, the children adore her, she becomes indispensable to their father Luther in his laboratory, and her potions are able to restore the sight of granddame Leonora.
Soon Asher fits in as if she’s always been there, but there are creatures that stalk the woods at night, spectres haunt the halls, and Asher is not as much a stranger to the Morwoods as it might at first appear.
I love a dark fairytale… in fact I actually wrote an essay on them for my German A-Level coursework. I don’t like the new trend for ‘misunderstood’ villains – just let them be evil!
While our main character Asher is not what I would call evil, she’s definitely not a good character. In fact, most of the people we meet are devious, involved in dark secrets or just plain malicious. Excellent.
It’s a slow start, as we get to know Asher’s background, and I struggled to stay focused. However, it picks up after a few chapters and becomes a dark and twisted tale of revenge. There’s blood, magic and wolves, all in a fictional Victorian (ish) setting.
Slatter is a fantastic writer, striking the perfect balance between enough description to help us visualise, but allowing our own imagination to fill in the blanks. There are a few plot points that perhaps needed less energy spent on them, as they don’t really add much, but the main story has plenty to keep bloodthirsty readers interested.
Characters are unique and each of them goes on a separate journey throughout the book. Yet there is still humanity in the children and Asher, despite their unsavoury relations. Greed, jealousy and vengeance drive the story and although the final climax is a little rushed and tidy, it feels satisfactory. It also leaves it open for a potential – and welcome – sequel…