“But do people tell stories about these places because they exist, or do they exist because people tell stories about them?”
Pricked by Scott Mooney was a delightful, unique, and rather impressive story that admittedly was not without its own flaws. The truth is that, after beginning this novel, I very quickly found myself under the impression that I wouldn’t like it all that much. Thus, as I continued through the story I was incredibly amazed to find that I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Pricked impressed me more than I thought it would. Despite not being the best story and despite having a few cringe moments for me, I’ve left this book happy to have read it.
Now let’s dive right in, shall we?
Our story begins with a young adult called Briar who is definitely the sort I would consider rough around the edges. She’s got a magical power that allows her to change the emotions of those around her merely by giving them a flower–a power that will grow throughout the course of the novel–and she has been using that power to make money. Basically, she’s on call to change the emotions of whomever the ones with money ask her to. Of course, though the emotions wear off eventually, it’s no surprise that someone ended up angry enough to send a basket of cursed goodies to her apartment. Since Briar wasn’t home, it was her unfortunate roommate, however, who was cursed to take the form of a cat.
So, when an offer is made to pay for the rather expensive de-cursing that her best friend requires if Briar uses her abilities to find the kidnapped boyfriend of a rich royal’s daughter, it’s really no surprise that an adventure will soon be underway. And the best part about this novel? It takes place in a world parallel to our own, called the Poison Apple, conveniently located right beside (sort of) the Big Apple we all know as New York City. And naturally, the inhabitants of the fairy world intermingle throughout both.
Now while I say I loved this story, I also mentioned flaws. The biggest of the flaws for me came with the rather underdeveloped and nearly one-dimensional main love interest who I just grew exceedingly frustrated with throughout the course of the novel and the main character herself. I didn’t like them. While Briar had brief moments where I did enjoy her character, a lot of it was outshone by pettiness and immaturity. Antoine was just flat as an overcooked pancake.
Briar was sardonic, crude, and bitter to the point of being annoying. She had all these beliefs and ideas and yet pettily influenced the emotions of a girl she didn’t know merely because she grew annoyed with how obsessed the girl was with her looks and the somewhat mean-girl-esque presentation of her personality. Though this is probably more to the author than the character, she also incorrectly associated Jung with Freud’s beliefs and work (not a big deal, but as I majored in Psychology it was an inconsistency that I couldn’t help but notice). A plot point with one of her roommates made the enchantment of her special dagger, amusingly named Prick, an annoying plot hole. She was immature and annoying on numerous occasions. And I didn’t care one whit about her.
Antoine? Well, he lacked personality. He often felt like an accessory to Briar’s rather overbearing one. And the love connection? Aside from the rather eye-roll inducing inner thoughts of, “Do I like him? Does he like me?” that I’ve just grown to absolutely hate, I never really felt convinced of their interest in one another. This isn’t a huge deal for me, ultimately, mainly because I just didn’t care about them at all.
Which brings me to my main point here; the story was brilliant. I didn’t have to like the main characters to be wowed by the plot and entranced with the expertly weaved tale as it slowly unfolded before my eyes. I was captivated. And while I 100% saw one of the plot twists coming a mile away, the other one took me completely by surprise. Regardless, I enjoyed both immensely. And while I may not have liked the main characters in the slightest, I loved many of the side ones. My favorite, Tarris alongside Miranda, Rick, and even Alice were utterly wonderful in so many ways.
So, while I probably wouldn’t read a sequel that centered around Briar and Antoine–ugh–I can guarantee I would eagerly read anything that delved further into the stories of Tarris, Ric, Miranda, or even Alice. As for the writing, it was good. Admittedly the New York/Fairytale puns were sometimes a bit cheesy, but overall enjoyable. I left the story happier with it than I entered. And really, that leaves me with only one last thing to say about the piece; they probably should have marketed the LGBTQ inclusivity because I can definitely see readers who’d enjoy this novel not getting a chance to do so simply because they were unaware of it.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.