Mari Thistle is just trying to survive and take care of her two younger siblings. Because she lives in the Red Zone and not in the safety of the walled and guarded fortresses where the rich people live, she has to take on some dangerous jobs. Her latest job, which involves sneaking into one of the fortresses and stealing something, has gone bad and she knows she’s likely to be killed by Stavros, the boss who hired her. When she’s rescued by a guy named Thorne Goodman who’s planning to challenge Stavros’ leadership, she finds herself caught in a brutal turf war.
Thistle & Thorne is a novella which was originally published in the post-apocalyptic anthology ‘Til The World Ends earlier this year by Harlequin/Luna. You’re probably thinking it’s a romance, which is what I was expecting, too, but, if anything, Thistle & Thorne is an introduction to two characters who are just starting to trust and admire each other. Both have learned from prior experience that nobody can be relied upon. In Thorne’s case, that means even family. If there’s any romance for Thistle and Thorne, it’s subtle and it’s just beginning.
Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the poor live hand-to-mouth and have no hope for ever attaining a place in the beautiful corporation-managed fortresses, Thistle & Thorne is dark, dreary, and oppressive. There aren’t any ideas I haven’t seen before in this type of fiction, but Ann Aguirre creates sympathetic protagonists who feel real and whose lives are interesting, even if they’re always bleak. At the end I certainly hoped that life would improve for Thistle and Thorne and that there might be a future romance. If Ann Aguirre writes any more about these two, and I won’t be surprised if she does, I think I’ll tune in.
Thistle & Thorne was published separately in audio format and was performed by Lauren Fortgang who was fabulous. It’s just over three hours long and currently costs $4.95.