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A relatable fantasy tale full of surprises
It’s only human to resist change, but Tim Susman braves unfamiliar territory in his epic fantasy
novel, proving he can captivate loyal furry fans and new mainstream readers alike.
The Price of Thorns tells the stories of Nivvy, a lovable but flawed young man hired to help a
mysterious old woman steal back her kingdom. The back cover synopsis ends there, revealing
nothing past chapter one. Subsequent pages are full of surprises as Susman turns common,
escapist furry and fantasy themes on their heels, daring to ask: what if being an animal weren’t
so much fun? What if magic caused more harm than good, and people might be better off
without it? Perhaps readers won’t dream of visiting Nivvy’s world as they do Middle-Earth or
Narnia; magic as a tool is limited and often grim (just wait 'til you see what djinn do with it) and
the cities feel like real metropolises: striking and full of history, but also smelly, seedy, and a bit dangerous (at least, the parts Nivvy tends to frequent). But there’s no need for a return visit to Spire or Copper Port, not when Susman’s crafty world building makes the stories heard, lessons learned, and friends made feel real long after the last page.
Don’t be fooled by the human protagonist; as long-time Susman fans will hope, there are indeed
anthropomorphic animals in Nivvy’s world, and The Price of Thorns holds some of the best furry
writing found in any genre. Far from just being human-smart animals who can talk, these
characters’ species write their experiences in vivid detail. Birds of prey, with their sharp long-distance eyesight, enjoy the scenery on long trips. Rodents and mustelids navigate using shadows made by leaves and grasses on the forest floor, ever aware of their own mortality. Even the speed at which small bodies use up energy from food factors into characters’
Without a doubt, the greatest strength of The Price of Thorns is its humanity. Susman writes humans, animals, and magical beings alike with such empathetic detail that everyone, no matter
how gray their morals, feels nuanced and goes through a meaningful transformation. Notably, LGBTQ+ characters’ stories are told with modern sensitivity, empowering readers and making them feel seen. With its countless brilliantly human moments, everyone will find something to relate to, whether it’s the sinking loss of a future that once seemed promised; the
disappointment of trying to see the good in people who continually show darkness; or crippling grief after a preventable tragedy. Ultimately, the heartfelt message of The Price of Thorns is the
same for everyone: whatever has befallen you—and no matter if it’s a result of your own decisions or plain-old bad luck—life is always worth living and making great.
Edited by Tim Susman
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