Book Review: The Apple and The Thorn by Emma Restall Orr and Walter William Melnyk

apple thorn

Title: The Apple and The Thorn

Author: Emma Restall Orr and Walter William Melnyk

Author Site

Buy Link

Publisher: Thoth Publishing

Genre: historical fiction, romance

Length – 295 pages

Other: M/F

Pagan & Pagan Elements: yes/yes

Card Rating: — 1 card

Reviewed by: Brandi

About The Book: From : This story is not true in the sense that most people use the word. It emerges out of the mists of time, rooted deep in the ancient heritage of Britain. A weave of mythologies, theologies, and histories, it is the story of two people, and a story of all peoples. It has no beginning and it has no ending.

The Apple and the Thorn stands upon the tradition of two mythical characters: Vivian, the Lady of the Lake and Eosaidh of Cornualle (Joseph of Arimathea). Yet the land itself is a living character in the tale, as is the surrounding marsh, the invading Roman legion and a very special cup of blue glass that unites them all. A Timeless Tale of Love and War. Source

The Review: The Apple and The Thorn is a very poetic novel, told in first person with the point of view alternating between Vivian and Eos. Though this style allowed for wonderful characterization, the story would have worked much better in third person.

The blurb states the authors’ intention of creating “the land itself is a living character”; however there is such a thing as being too descriptive. The feel of blankets, of soil, of the forest, etc. is over-explained at every opportunity, and the wording is annoying and a bit clichéd. The authors also chose to write the novel in present tense, which just doesn’t work, as there is not enough action or excitement in the novel to justify it.

Admittedly, the language used is beautiful and (to a limited degree) historical, but would be better suited in the non-fiction work author Emma Restall Orr is best known for. At times the book gets so poetic and ‘wordy’ that it’s difficult to keep track of the story line. And unfortunately, it leads the reader to ask: Is there an actual storyline here?

After the first chapter, it became a chore to read this book. While some passages are engaging and beautiful, others are tedious and boring, and I found myself skimming the pages instead of actually reading, searching for some movement of plot. I never found it.

The relationship between Vivian and Eos is well intended and has some flecks of passion, but because of the style issues of the novel, it is difficult to relate to them or to even care about the developing romance.

Pagan Elements: ~ Druidism, Historical Britain, Arthurian Legend

Cover (Rated 1-10): 7 – very pretty with subtle colors, but not outstanding, and does not pull a reader in.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Apple and The Thorn by Emma Restall Orr and Walter William Melnyk”

  1. Some people love this book, and others do not like it at all. The reviewer is, of course, entitled to her opinion. But had she taken the time to read slowly rather than skim, she might have discovered the story line. I encourage others to see for themselves.


  2. As a contrast to the above review, here is the review that appeared in Touchstone, the magazine of The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) –
    Reviewed by Pat Mead

    Is it a novel? Is it a theological treatise? Is it myth reworked? Well… yes, yes and yes. It’s a bumblebee too. You know – theoretically the bee’s body is too heavy for its wings, making it unable to fly. However, the bee doesn’t know it’s aerodynamically unsound, and it manages to fly very nicely, thank you. The weight of theology and philosophy in The Apple and the Thorn ought to keep it mired on the ground, but somehow it manages to fly right up there alongside the bumblebee. (And produces some fine honey too.)

    The two main characters in the story are Joseph of Arimathea (called Eosaidh in the book), and Vivian, the Lady of the Lake. The narration moves from one to the other and begins as Eosaidh arrives in Avalon, fifteen years after his great-nephew was crucified in Jerusalem. Eosaidh settles on what is now Wearyall Hill, and meets his old friend Vivian once more. They seek to understand each other’s spirituality, exploring their very different beliefs about the divine, about male and female, light and dark, the outer and the inner worlds, and the importance of the land itself. Often they misunderstand each other, but there is always liking and respect between them, and before long they have become lovers.

    The peaceful idyll is shattered with the arrival of strangers who lay claim to twelve hides of Avalon’s sacred land. They are converts to the new Christian cult, and they see the Lady and her people as sorceresses and demons. Hot on their heels are the pragmatic Romans who seek only to quell rebellion and seize the wealth and resources of the land. Eosaidh’s loyalties are torn in many directions and the love that he and Vivian share is tested to the limit.

    Reading The Apple and the Thorn was a delightful experience for me. As I neared the end, I read ever more slowly, wanting to postpone for as long as possible the moment of our separation. I knew how it would end, but the tears are still on my cheeks as I write.

    Pat Mead
    The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids

    See more reviews and readers’ comments at


  3. I agree Walter. And books, like everything else, is subject to the opinion of the one reading. I hope everyone will take the time to read the book and draw their own conclusions, which is what the reviewer did.


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