Fantasy and reality come together in a unique and exciting way in Khalia Moreau’s The Princess of Thornwood Drive. A year ago Laine Highland’s world turned upside down. Her parents were killed in a car crash that also left her younger sister, Alyssa in a vegetative state. Laine blames herself for the accident and quits school to come home and take care of Alyssa. Laine is slowly being crushed between her guilt and her new responsibilities. And there’s no room for Laine to have a life of her own at all.
Just as she’s about to hit rock bottom, a white knight comes along to save her and Alyssa. But things aren’t always the way they seem, and Laine is about to find this out the hard way. Meanwhile, Alyssa is trapped in a fantasy world where she and her sister are magical princesses and a curse besets her. In her world, the only one who can save them is Alyssa herself, but how can a cursed princess save the day?
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Forever (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette) for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review contains some spoilers!]
Khalia Moreau tells the same story in two very different ways
Right from the beginning The Princess of Thornwood Drive set itself apart from other fantasy books. Half of the story is told from Laine’s point of view in the very real world. Her parents are dead, her sister is a shell, bills are piling up, and there’s no one to help. Her guilt and anxiety are almost overwhelming and Laine is terrified that the state is going to find her incompetent and take Alyssa away.
When Alyssa gets accepted to Lake Forest care home it seems like a blessing. Alyssa’s been approved for a grant that will cover the cost of all her care. Laine can now put the money she had been pouring into Alyssa’s care into paying other bills before they lose their home. Even better, the head physician at Lake Forest is the very good-looking Dr. Remson. He seems sweet and caring, and what’s more, he’s obviously attracted to Laine. And she’s interested in him too. But with all her responsibilities she can’t possibly think about dating right now. Well, maybe she can. Maybe things are finally going her way.
Alyssa’s fantasy world
The other half of the story is Alyssa’s world. Left paralyzed and basically non-verbal after the accident, her mind is still very active. But it doesn’t interpret the world the same anymore. In her mind, Alyssa is a princess who has been placed under a curse. And her parents aren’t dead, they’re just missing. Magic is real and she views everything around her through this fairy-tale filter. Alyssa seems to have a pretty good grasp of what’s going on around her, even if it is told through the lens of her magical world. She knows that there is darkness hiding in Lake Forest and evil coming for her and Laine. She just doesn’t know how to warn her sister.
But don’t think this makes her powerless. Even if she can’t move or talk, Alyssa can still impact her world. She ventures into a different plane where she can move and use magic again. It’s not the same as the real world, but she is able to do things there that impact the real world. The interesting thing is that some of the things she does in her fantasy world do make it through to Laine’s reality. It’s very interesting and makes you question just how powerful the mind is. And just how mundane Laine’s side of the story really is.
A fascinating trade-off in The Princess of Thornwood Drive
Moreau switches between Laine and Alyssa’s point of view for each chapter. Occasionally we experience the same events from each sister’s perspective. But most often the plot moves forward and we have to piece together what’s really happening under the different filters. This really brought the idea of perspective front and center for me.
We all know that there are at least three sides to every story (yours, mine, and the truth) but we don’t often think about exactly what that means. How different people can see the exact same thing and yet have very different experiences of the situation. Moreau uses these different experiences to her advantage. Seeing some scenes from Laine’s perspective and some from Alyssa’s made the story even richer and more touching.
And this is a very touching story. I was bawling my eyes out at the end. And while the ending is sad, it’s also uplifting, and perfect. This is a fantasy story, but it’s also grounded in the real world. This means that having a fairy-tale ending would have felt disingenuous and blunted the impact of Moreau’s tale. The more realistic ending makes the story real and relatable and gives real-world hope instead of false hope.
It was really incredible and I am looking forward to more from Khalia Moreau. Definitely keep an eye out for The Princess of Thornwood Drive coming November 7th!
My Rating: 9/10
The Princess of Thornwood Drive by Khalia Moreau is available November 7. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on checking on this novel!