The Thorn and the Blossom - Theodora Goss, Scott McKowen Let me start by saying that I love Quirk Books. They do a lot of unique and interesting things with the books they choose to publish. I've long said that working at Quirk would be my dream job, especially after I got to meet a few members of their tiny staff during grad school. Unfortunately, that small staff means that they never seem to hire anything expect unpaid interns. Maybe one day (if I could reconcile the fact that I'd have to move back to Philadelphia).

Anyway: the subtitle of this book is a two-sided love story, and that's a doubly literal description. As many others have noted, it's impossible to discuss this book without acknowledging its unusual construction:


Each side of that accordion tells one half of Evelyn and Brendan's love story. They meet in Cornwall, where Evelyn is taking a respite from her studies at Oxford and Brendan is working in his father's bookstore. Their week together is cut short by Evelyn's secret and they eventually go their own ways. Their paths cross a few years later, but now it's Brendan's turn to harbor a secret.

You can read either character's version of events first, as both have secrets kept from the other. I enjoyed reading Brendan's side more than I did Evelyn's; I felt like he was a more developed character, but that may have been a result of already reading Evelyn's version of events.

The accordion-style is incredibly unique and I loved how it facilitates the dual narrative, but it's also limiting. The story told within has to stay fairly brief in order to literally fit within the bound of the book. As a result, I felt that the story itself was a little underdeveloped and lacking in the kind of emotion I hope for in a good love story. Still, it's a thought-provoking reminder that there are two sides of every love story and a demonstration of the creativity to be found in traditional, printed books.