The Briar Crown, by Helen Rygh-Pedersen - A review by Esmay Rosalyne

The Book

The Briar Crown
Series: The Zemkoska Chronicles
Pages: 362
Age Group: Adult
Published on 1/18/2023
Publisher: Self-Published
Fantasy Romance
Available on:


They say love conquers all… but can the conquered ever love the conqueror?

Twenty-five years ago, there was life. Twenty-five years ago, there was peace when the descendants of the dryads and naiads kept all life in balance. Until one fateful night when the Oderbergs invaded, executed the royal house of Domonov, and took Domovnia for their own, ruling with an iron fist and an edict of fear.

Roslyn Pleveli, like most of the orphans of that night, wants revenge and an end to the persecution of her kind. Yet, even if the Domovnian’s use of magic was permitted, she wouldn’t be much help, able to command only a few lowly weeds. But everything changes when she saves the life of an injured young man in the forest not knowing it was the prince of the Oderbergs himself. Ordered to see to the rest of his treatment, Roslyn is snatched from her home and all that she loves by his soldiers.

Now, in the Oderberg stronghold, she has the chance to change things. With the royal family within her grasp all she has to do to free her people is kill them… but can she do it, or will something more powerful than revenge heal the wounds of the past?    

My Review (4 out of 5 )

I knew virtually nothing about this story before going into The Briar Crown, but I had heard such amazing things about this author’s debut, Waking Ursa Minor, that I just took a leap of faith and hoped for the best. And wow, what a wonderful surprise this was! A sweeping and heartwarming fantasy romance with great political intrigue and alluring nature magic, what more could you want?!

This is the story of the young and fierce Roslyn Pleveli, who wants nothing more than to see her land and people be freed from the iron rule of their invaders, the Oderbergs. For 25 years, the Domovnians have been oppressed and persecuted for their nature magic, but now sparks of rebellion are stirring. As a lowly Hedgie, able to command but a mere few weeds, Roslyn always thought that she wouldn’t be of much help in her people’s quest for revenge. Yet, when she finds herself ordered to live at the Oderberg stronghold after saving their prince’s life, she might just end up being the key to freedom and equality for her people. If only her feelings don’t end up getting in the way of her mission to kill the royal family…

I was utterly enchanted by this story from the moment I started reading. This might be a harsh and brutal world, but the story never felt bleak to me. For one, I loved the way the nature magic made this world feel so vibrant and alive. The author has created a deep history and rich lore for this world and its inhabitants, which was woven seamlessly into the story. I loved learning about the different magical abilities, they just filled me with a sense of wonder.

But aside from that, these characters are also just delightful to follow. They are generally just good people who refuse to give up hope, which makes it so easy to root for them. They might not be the most complex characters ever, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t well-developed. Both Roslyn and her love interest have their own internal struggles to overcome and their dynamic is complex and compelling. There’s a bit of a star-crossed lovers scenario going on and I loved seeing them grapple with their conflicting duties and feelings. The love interest is also just unfairly charming and I can’t fault Roslyn for falling head over heels in love.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call this insta-love, but there’s certainly an instant infatuation/lust situation. I personally enjoy my romances a bit more slow-burn, but that didn’t stop me from loving their dynamic either way. Their interactions are amusing, tender, heartfelt, and overall just filled my heart with joy.    

While I was personally more invested in the characters and their messy emotions, I did end up being pleasantly surprised by the way this plot developed and played out. The author did a great job of balancing the romance and the political elements, which made this story just incredibly engaging. And while the final resolution was maybe a bit predictable, I liked that there were some surprising reveals and revelations along the way. The brilliant pacing and the captivating writing style also just kept me glued to the page, so I ended up breezing through this comforting story like nobody’s business.

Overall, I had a fabulous time with this story, so now I am even more excited to go back to check out Waking Ursa Minor and will be looking out for anything she writes next! If you need a good, comforting fantasy romance with loveable characters, dangerous political intrigue, satisfying reveals, and enchanting nature magic, then I highly recommend checking out The Briar Crown.
It is scheduled for release on January 18, 2023, so get your pre-orders in already!

Thank you to the author for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

About the reviewer


 Hi! I’m Esmay, a 20-year-old bookworm from the Netherlands. My main hobbies are reading books, talking about books, reviewing books, and watching videos of people talking about books. Fantasy is my favourite genre, but I will honestly read anything if the premise intrigues me. Also, over the past year, I’ve become a huge (SFF) indie/self-pub enthusiast and it’s been a wonderful experience to discover all the hidden gems. I’m forever exploring stranger worlds.

You can follow her on Goodreads / Twitter.   

The Author/s

Helen Rygh-Pedersen

Helen Rygh-Pedersen

Hello! My name is Helen Rygh-Pedersen and I am an author. 

​Reading and writing are two things I have been heavily involved with from a young age. I could always be found with my nose in a book, especially on long car journeys, or with a notebook in hand. My mother often recounts how before I was even taught my letters I had "written" a story on a piece of paper at Kindergarten and when asked, could read every word of said story back to the teacher. 

​Creative writing classes at school were my happy place. So, it seems a shame that as I grew older and exams, university and work came along, that writing fell a little to the wayside (bar a wonderful summer at university where I rekindled that love affair once more- even it it was just a summer fling). 

Move on a couple of years and I am now living in Norway with my young family.  My husband is incredibly supportive of my longing to get back into writing and make it my career. 

​I am currently working on an adult fantasy series. Book one; Waking Ursa Minor has just been published and I am currently writing the next installment.

​If you would like to know more about my work you can check out the BOOKS page and of course if you have any questions then don't hesitate to CONTACT me.