Review: The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca

the-thorn-of-dentonhillThe Thorn of Dentonhill
by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Series: Maradaine #1
Genre: Fantasy
Setting: Archduchy of Maradaine
Published by DAW, 2015
E-book, purchased
400 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: Veranix Calbert leads a double life. By day, he’s a struggling magic student at the University of Maradaine. At night, he spoils the drug trade of Willem Fenmere, crime boss of Dentonhill and murderer of Veranix’s father. He’s determined to shut Fenmere down.

With that goal in mind, Veranix disrupts the delivery of two magical artifacts meant for Fenmere’s clients, the mages of the Blue Hand Circle.  Using these power-filled objects in his fight, he quickly becomes a real thorn in Fenmere’s side.

So much so that soon not only Fenmere, but powerful mages, assassins, and street gangs all want a piece of “The Thorn.” And with professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might just fall apart. Unless, of course, Fenmere puts an end to it first.

Veranix took a bite. It was good. Not perfect–too much mustard, not enough pepper–but it was quite good. Almost how his mother would make it.

Almost, but not quite right at all.

Quietly, he kept eating, every bite delicious. Every bite wrong. Every bite driving home the inevitable point that had never crossed his mind before.

He would never eat his mother’s Chickin Thalin again.


  • It took me a month to read this book. I had a hard time getting into it. But it did get better for me by the end.
  • This isn’t my favorite book of the year, but it does have a lot of strengths.
  • I don’t think it is the fault of this book so much as me. I could see where this book was going…that Veranix is going to have a confrontation with Fenmere. Fenmere is a scary bad guy. There’s not much that he won’t do. So I didn’t want him to get his hands on Veranix. Also as I say in the “Jeers” Veranix keeps going into danger without thinking it through.
  • I understand why Veranix is intent on putting Fenmere out of business…especially the drug running business.
  • There’s a lot of Robin Hood or Zorro in this book–Veranix gives any money he gets from the criminals to charity and tries to help people.
  • The world building is really good.  The world is complex and interesting and gives lots of opportunities for stories.


  • Veranix Calbert annoyed me at times. He kept rushing into things without thinking them through–and that goes badly for him lots of times.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I have the second book set in this world. It’s not a sequel to this book. Instead A Murder of Mages is the first book in the Maradaine Constabulary series. I think I might like this book better since I didn’t really connect with Veranix.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Marshall Ryan Maresca is a fantasy and science-fiction writer, author of The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages, both released by DAW Books in 2015.  He grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef.

Reading Challenges