Ava Reid's second novel, Juniper & Thorn, is set in a different time and place in the same world as her debut, The Wolf and the Woodsman, but is a darker, grittier stand-alone novel. Once again, Reid draws upon fairy tales, mythic themes and gothic horror to let the story's dark magic unfold.
Marlinchen and her two older sisters are the last witches in Oblya, a city rapidly moving away from the magic of the old ways and embracing the modernizing pull of industry and progress. Their father--the last wizard of Oblya, who bears a curse--is xenophobic and hates the changes before him. He forbids his daughters to leave the house and garden to experience the changing city or even to cut their hair. They are the witches and--in order to survive, even if they scrape by--they are meant to attract customers. But Marlinchen's older sisters do not obey. On the first night they take her with them, she becomes captivated by the principal dancer in the ballet. She goes from being the quiet, plain, silent third daughter to seeking her own freedom and quiet rebellion.
As she searches for more ways to be with her dancer, her father's magic and rage grow more violent. Mysterious, brutal murders by what can only be a monster begin to occur around Oblya. But there are darker truths to be revealed than even Marlinchen can imagine, despite growing up with her family's magic. As she looks for a way to be with her love, she finds so much more instead. --Michelle Anya Anjirbag, freelance reviewer