The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss

The first thing we have to talk about with this book is the structure. I follow Theodora on Facebook and so I heard the news about her upcoming book and witnessed the cover reveal, but somehow I missed the completely unique way this book was published. It’s bound accordion style.

Yes, this book has no spine. See the picture below for a visual explanation!

The Thorn and the Blossom tells a love story from two perspectives, with one perspective on each side of the accordion. Evelyn is an American traveling in the UK and trying to decide if she should succumb to family pressure and go to law school, or study her true passion, which is literature. The other perspective is from Brendan, a small town native with a passion for literature himself, in particular a legend concerning his home town about the Green Knight and Queen Elowen.

The two meet in Brendan’s family’s bookstore and begin a strange romance that carries across the ocean and a decade. Through magical secrets and tragic misinterpretation their lives come to parallel the legend they both love.

I truly loved the atmosphere in this book. We begin in an ages-old town somewhere in the UK, but even when we go to America the colonial collegiate setting is peaceful and immersive. This is a short book but Theodora made me care about her characters from page 1. For Evelyn, who wouldn’t want to be backpacking through Europe, and who hasn’t struggled with explaining their passion for writing and defending it as a legitimate career choice? For Brendan, who hasn’t seen someone they were instantly drawn to, and struggled with the choice to fit in or stand out?

Because this book tells the same story from different perspectives, choosing who to start with is important. I started with Evelyn but after reading the whole thing I wish I’d started with Brendan. Evelyn is keeping a secret Brendan never truly uncovers, and I think I would have enjoyed the mystery of it if I’d read his perspective first.

This is a book I’m proud to have on my shelf, not only for the unique binding style and beautiful cover, but for the endearing plot and simple, elegant language. I read this book in an hour and will definitely do so again soon, especially now that I get to go back and compare both perspectives to each other.

If you love novelty physical books, medieval literature, academic settings, or tragic love stories, I highly recommend picking this book up (and playing with its accordion pages!)

And if you’re curious about Theodora herself, you can visit her website here. Theodora teaches literature and has been widely published with various short stories and essays. She’s even appeared in Realms of Fantasy, which is my favorite fantasy magazine to pick up at the bookstore.

Want this book for your bookshelf? We’ll we’re giving you the opportunity to win one!

To enter to win a copy of THE THORN AND THE BLOSSOM, just leave a comment about your favorite novelty book! This giveaway ends on Friday and is open internationally!


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60 Responses to The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss

  1. Christina Kit. Feb 27 2012 at 5:46 am #

    WOW!!

    This book sounds and looks awesome!

    I love how it’s both a romance and a medievalesque mystery:)) And I love how there’s a legend in there that applies to their life now.

    Both Evelyn and Brendan sound so great.

    Thanks so much!!

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Medievealesque – THAT’S the word I was looking for when trying to write this review. The atmosphere was so enjoyable because I love that old, literary feel 🙂

  2. Christina Kit. Feb 27 2012 at 5:48 am #

    I don’t really have a favorite novelty book. This, to be honest, is the first I’ve seen. But it looks like this would be my fave taking into consideration the accordion format and the actual book:)

    Thanks so much:)

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 9:07 am #

      I don’t have a thing for novelty books, but I’ve seen some gorgeous ones about… the thing I like about this one is that it’s so accessible. There are some fabulous pop-up and interactive books that are so beautiful but you have to be so delicate with them… I’ve never bought one because I’d never look through it out of fear.

  3. Julie
    Julie Feb 27 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Savannah, this book sounds so incredible! Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

  4. Tracey Berry Feb 27 2012 at 6:59 am #

    Are there really any good novelty books out there anymore – all the novelty books I remember are from childhood with pop outs n cut outs and there was one book (whose name totally escapes me – makes me mad as would love to read again) where at the end of each chapter u had to make a choice – each choice sent u 2 a different chapter where again u would make another choice at the end of the chapter – it was like a console game but with paper – I loved it!

    An accordian book? Sounds totally wicked – that should encourage more people to read as it’s not “rigid” – this should have been publicised a lot more as it’s very very clever xx

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Ah, Choose Your Own Endings stories! I always had to go through and figure out every possible story in the book… took forever!

  5. Glaiza Feb 27 2012 at 7:05 am #

    This book sounds lovely and the accordian stretch of the pages looks swoon worthy.

  6. Ilana Feb 27 2012 at 7:20 am #

    This does look good.

    Unfortunately, I have no favorite novelty books. I don’t think I’ve read any!

  7. katherine S Feb 27 2012 at 7:59 am #

    This book sounds amazing. I love the fact it has both perspectives. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Linda C. Feb 27 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Hmmm…I tend to love the Sabuda pop-up books, particularly Alice in Wonderland!

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 9:10 am #

      I think I have a Wizard of Oz version locked up safe somewhere… totally gorgeous.

      • Linda C. Feb 27 2012 at 11:55 am #

        You’re right–that one IS gorgeous!

  9. Meredith Anderson Feb 27 2012 at 8:41 am #

    I honestly can’t remember any novelty books that I’ve had in the past, but this book certainly caught my eye the second I opened up this page! I can’t wait to actually get my hands on a copy!

    Mer
    <3

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 9:10 am #

      I haven’t had one since I was a kid, but I HAD to try this one out!

  10. Carl Feb 27 2012 at 8:45 am #

    At one time I had an accordian book of baseball paintings that were accompanied by quotes about the human body from Leonardo Da Vinci. Sound’s strange doesn’t it, but it all made sense when it was put together.

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 9:11 am #

      It does sound a little strange 🙂 Who knew there were so many Da Vinci quotes relatable to baseball?

  11. Erin Bowman
    Erin Bowman Feb 27 2012 at 9:39 am #

    The accordion-style binding of this alone intrigues me. Thanks for the reco, Sav!

  12. Teresa Feb 27 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I have 2 favorite novelty books – a large, picture/puzzle book from when I was a kid (I wish I could remember the name of it, it was my favorite – you had to solve puzzles and mysteries within the book itself, it was a good time) and one I picked up a few years ago just for the heck of it – it was basically a make your own adventure, but with scenarios and characters from Jane Austen novels.

    This book looks so intriguing!

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 10:10 am #

      That puzzle book sounds awesome!

      Also, choose your own adventure books made from existing classics is the best idea ever! And omg! There should be one for Harry Potter!

  13. Vivien Feb 27 2012 at 10:08 am #

    I personally haven’t read a novelty book. But this IMMEDIATELY caught my eye. In fact, I didn’t need to read the premise, I just want it 🙂 Knowing there are more books out there like this makes me want to go shopping!!

  14. Gina Rinelli Feb 27 2012 at 10:30 am #

    The Sabuda pop-up books are absolutely amazing. And I have to mention Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children. The creepy photographs are totally worth it, and give a whole new dimension to the story.

    As for favorite, can I choose the book art that was left in the British Libraries? Did they ever find out who was creating those? (Cut-paper art and the like.) Normally it would make me sad to see books destroyed and defaced, but these are so intricate and beautiful I think they are the opposite, showing the artist’s love and respect of books.

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 10:32 am #

      I love book art. I guess I have a looser interpretation of what a book really is… I don’t mind defacing paper for the purpose of art 🙂

  15. Zoe Feb 27 2012 at 10:40 am #

    I would love to have this book just to play with it. Oh and I suppose it helps that there’s an awesome story involved with it too.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this before… I think the closest I’ve even gotten was some book I read in middle school that was told through letters and emails and such. I definitely need to check this one out though!

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 11:07 am #

      I didn’t mention this in the review, but it was a little bit difficult to hold at first… I was afraid of damaging the pages, but I eventually figured out how to tuck one cover on the end of the other to make a sort of angle I could hold… it worked!

  16. Giada M. Feb 27 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I own a copy of the Wondeful Wizard of Oz pop-up by Sabuda. I love it!!! Thank you for posting! 🙂

  17. Margaret Feb 27 2012 at 11:06 am #

    My favourite novelty books is: ‘The Architecture Pack’. A sophisticated version of a pop-up book that offers a unique, cross-cultural, three-dimensional tour of architecture through the centuries. Fascinating. I got it in 2001 and I flip through it at least once every few months.
    Cheers.

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 11:08 am #

      Wow. Sounds amazing. Definitely one of those books that makes you rethink e-books, but then again I’ve seen a ton of cool, interactive e-books.

  18. elena Feb 27 2012 at 11:35 am #

    I don’t think I’ve read a novelty book before but maybe Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral counts? It was definitely innovative and like nothing I’ve read before!

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      I looked that up on Amazon… looks like a totally interesting project!

  19. Simona Feb 27 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I used to read the Goosebumps choose your own ending books all the time as a kid! This book looks awesome 🙂

    • savannahjfoley Feb 27 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      I was the worst at those! I always died! Those books were counter-intuitive…

  20. Vasiliki Feb 27 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    To be honest, i haven’t read any novelty books (none that i can remember anyway) but this looks like such a cool book, not only because of its unique binding, but also because of the story itself. Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂

  21. Hannah F-S Feb 27 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    This book looks so cool!
    I think The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson is the only novelty book I’ve ever read. I think it counts. I should look for more.

  22. Sarah S Feb 27 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve read any novelty books other than pop-up books when I was a kid. But this book looks so interesting, and it makes me want to do a little searching to see what else is out there. Thanks for the inspiration!

  23. Krispy Feb 27 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve read another novelty book, but this one looks beautiful! I love that the structure facilitates the story-telling! Thanks for putting this on my radar. 🙂

  24. Stella C Feb 27 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I love those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books!

  25. Amber Feb 27 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    I can’t recall the title of my favorite novelty book, but it was an encyclopedia of princesses with silly little rhymes to describe each of their personalities. However, the illustrations were absolutely gorgeous and they had little interactive mazes and quizzes with pop-up art that tell you which type of princess you are (I had a tie-in between “no-nonsense” princess and “head-in-the-clouds” princess, very paradoxically enough :D!).

  26. Brooks Williams Feb 27 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Nox by Anne Carson is the only other novelty book that I’ve read. This one looks like a really interesting read AND it looks great too!

  27. Marina Feb 27 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    That’s absolutely amazing, the set-up itself would make me pick up the book, but I’d have a hard time deciding who to start with.

  28. Andrea Feb 27 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    This looks lovely! I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

  29. Nhi Feb 27 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. The cover, the accordian/concertina folded pages and the cute fluffy love story and just – my feelings? WHAT YOU DONE TO ME, YOU PRETTY PRETTY BOOK. *sits in corner consumed with cover lust*

    Definitely going to pick it up when it hits the bookstores!!!!! And sorry, don’t think I have a favourite novelty novel because I’m pretty sure I don’t actually have a physical copy of any (and I’m pretty I’ve never read one either) in my life so…. 🙁

  30. Andrea Feb 27 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    I’ve never seen anything so cool!! What a brilliant idea. Was it hard to read ever? Since it doesn’t have a binding, I mean. I’m imagining it collapsing on itself or something. (Maybe that’s just me, haha)

    I’m not sure if this counts but the pop-up edition of The Little Prince? I love any version of the wondrous book, but the pop-up version brings out the imaginative, creative child in me even more. =)

  31. Ellen Feb 27 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    This is also the first novelty book I’ve seen that I’ve been able to recognize. Can I just say how gorgeous that cover is? If I were in a bookstore, I would pick this up based on the cover alone.

  32. Renate Feb 28 2012 at 12:04 am #

    I love the Middle Ages! Tragic love stories, sometimes not so much, since I’m not fond of crying and they always make me cry–but somehow I’m always willing to give them another chance!

  33. Pragya Feb 28 2012 at 6:08 am #

    I don’t have novelty book but I like this one!

  34. Victoria Feb 28 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Whoever thought of that binding/cover is a genius it looks gorgeous!

  35. Lea Kaplan Feb 28 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Between my current freelance work as a book designer and my past experiences in a publishing house’s production department, I have a huge appreciation for out-of-the-box things like this. Wow! And between the synopsis of the story and Sav’s glowing review, I’m intrigued for the story itself. [:

    I don’t know if it counts as a novelty book, but reading House of Leaves was quite an adventure – to the point that I didn’t actually finish it! (… It’s in the house somewhere, I think; I should go find it.) Also, covers with cut-outs (which are novelty-esque, right?) are always fun. My favourites are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (specifically this edition, which is just a GORGEOUS edition with an awesome cut-out on the dust jacket).

  36. Petra Feb 28 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    I don’t think I have any novelty books, but The Thorn and the Blossom looks and sounds amazing.

  37. Jennifer Lazo Feb 29 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Cool idea for a book! I don’t really have any novelty books, but the Thorn and the Blossom looks like it would be a good one to own.

  38. Susan Feb 29 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    This book sounds marvelous! I love that it’s something so different – one of my favorite ever journals was a night and day journal – all the pages on one half of the journal were day pages, but if you opened it and started writing from the other “beginning,” they were all night pages! I actually read your blog post about this the other day but wasn’t able to add it to my goodreads list at the time…but now I have!

    I honestly can’t think of any other sort of novelty books I’ve read since childhood, although I wish there were some. When appropriate, they can really add something to the experience of reading!

  39. Caitlin Vanasse Mar 1 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    I don’t know if it’s a novelty book? But I really liked The Mysteries of Harris Burdick until my family’s copy was passed along to cousins (I heard they loved it too but… I’ll definitely be re-aquiring it.) It’s this picture book except it’s not one story rather it’s a collection of 13? pictures each with one line. It’s hard to describe but basically you’re supposed to make up your own story from the picture and line. I loved just staring at it. I’ve heard that actually recently a collection of stories written by popular children’s authors based on the book has been released so I’ve been debating reading it.

  40. Jess Mar 2 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    I really love Tree of Codes by Jonathon Saffran Foer. Basically, he got an already published manuscript, Street of Crocodiles, and LITERALLY cut bits and pieces out to make the novel. The format of the book is a fragile, insane bunch of pages with giant gaps in it because they’ve been cut out, and a few words splattered here and there to make up a lovely story.

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