Paula Guran Reviews The Path of Thorns by A. G. Slatter

The Path of Thorns, A.G. Slatter (Titan 978-1-78909-4374, $15.99, 384pp, tp) June 2022.

With The Path of Thorns A.G. (Angela) Slatter returns to the Sourdough world of her smashingly good novel All the Murmuring Bones, and this latest novel may be even better than than the previous one. The book begins with our heroine Asher Todd arriving at Morwood Grange to assume duties as a governess, and Slatter packs more dread and suspense into the first few pages than most authors can manage in an entire book. Asher is no ordinary govern­ess, and her intentions for the Morwood family have little to do with the three children’s educa­tion. She is full of secrets and has made a fateful promise to her dead mother. The Morwoods have twisted secrets of their own, and it is soon apparent that some of Asher’s and the family’s mysteries are entwined. As Asher contemplates late in the action: “Secrets do not stay in the dark where we put them. Some lie dormant, but others slither beneath doors, over windowsills, through the cracks in the walls, out into the light where everyone can see them.” Asher’s agenda involves ghosts, solving the disappearance of the previous governess, restoring the sight of the family matriarch, healing the local folk, dealing with a deliciously sexy werewolf, and more. Slatter provides her protagonist and plot with a wonderfully multi-dimensional supporting cast of household and estate staff, residents of Morwood Tarn, the Morwoods themselves, and people from her past. She already knows that a “woman’s life is the path of thorns….We walk through it, our feet will always hurt,” but like any good heroine, Asher grows and learns from her experiences, and by the end of the book the reader can’t help but want to know more about her future adventures. As atmospheric and uber-gothic as The Path of Thorns is, there’s humor too. Slatter delivers it all in a gorgeously written, deeply dark, deliciously rich, and magical package.

Paula Guran has edited more than 40 science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and more than 50 novels and collections featuring the same. She’s reviewed and written articles for dozens of publications. She lives in Akron OH, near enough to her grandchildren to frequently be indulgent.

This review and more like it in the July 2022 issue of Locus.

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