There will be spoilers for the manhwa series The Thorn That Pierces Me.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to violence, murder, corrupt religious institution, enslavement, child abuse/neglect, sexual assault, and kidnapping/confinement as it appears in the manhwa.
Heesoo was just trying to find an escape. Having just toured America and decided to go back home and better her life, Heesoo is finally seeing the brighter side of life. However, on the way back to Korea, the plane she’s on ends up getting sucked into a strange portal that transports the plane and everyone on it to a fantasy world. Heesoo is one of the few to survive the crash, but just surviving the crash isn’t enough. She ends up running into creatures called maenok, which are zombie-like creatures that attack the living and that can’t be killed. When she isn’t running from zombies, though, she faces enslavement, starvation, assault, and misunderstandings due to her inability to communicate with the locals since she can’t speak their language.
Things aren’t going so well in the new world. Resigned to the fact that she probably won’t survive, Heesoo plans to stop fighting and accept her fate. That is until a super sexy paladin appears to save the day. Finally faced with a glimmer of hope, Heesoo is determined to latch onto Calix in the hopes that he will keep her safe, and she does that the best way she knows how: by seducing the chaste paladin. Unfortunately, Calix isn’t all that receptive to her feminine wiles, but Heesoo’s persistence slowly but surely wears down the wall her savior has put up. However, as that wall begins to fall, it reveals that Calix may not be as pure as he appears to be.
First off, the art is gorgeous. The main reason I decided to read this was solely because of the art, which does not disappoint. I wish there had been a bit more work on character designs as there are two characters in particular that look nearly identical because their key features (blond hair, blue eye color) are the same. There just aren’t enough unique attributes to differentiate them from each other, but otherwise, the artwork is perfect. The ears can get a bit big from time to time, but that’s a minor flaw that isn’t worth noting for 98% of this. Now, while the art is gorgeous, the story leaves a lot to be desired.
It starts with an interesting enough premise. Heesoo falls into this fantasy world that is currently being ravaged by these zombie-like creatures called the maenok, which turn out to be other people from Heesoo’s world who, over time, change into these creatures in this new world. She can’t speak the language and is struggling to survive until she is rescued by daddy paladin Calix. He is super attractive. He is reluctant to help Heesoo at first, but she effectively lures and seduces him into taking her along and protecting her. Unfortunately, Calix’s innocence leads him to misunderstand how sex and pregnancy occur. As a result, Heesoo ends up tying herself to Calix by making him think she is pregnant with his child, even though they have never had sex.
Again, I really like the idea of having a super pure and innocent character, ignorant to such things, with the other character playing off of that to help protect herself in a strange world. However, the whole fake pregnancy plot point is just tossed aside. Calix just accepts that Heesoo is pregnant, then just as easily accepts that she never was pregnant without any argument or frustration on his part. Then we bounce around from the various plots: why Calix is separated from the church, how Heesoo even got to this fantasy world and why others keep coming, how Heesoo can get back, and whether or not Heesoo should be killed before she turns into maenok.
A ton of plots are happening simultaneously, along with the various side characters and their subplots. With this manhwa only being 60 episodes, everything feels a bit unfinished or hastily tied up. The ending, in particular, is really rough. Heesoo manages to return to her world with Calix alongside her, but that’s it. We don’t get very much info on what happened to the world after they left, nor do we get to see how Calix and Heesoo fair after returning to her world together, minus a few lines. It feels super unfinished and anticlimactic. No matter how beautiful this manhwa is, I can’t forgive how poorly the story finished. It makes the journey feel like it just wasn’t worth the time.
I was beyond disappointed with this one. Again, the art is some of the best you’ll see in manhwa, but the story lacks way too much substance to enjoy. I really want to like this because of how beautiful it is and how much potential the story had, but I feel like it just had too many moving parts without enough time to give each piece the time it needed to tie it off. I wouldn’t recommend this simply because the ending isn’t worth the time investment. However, if you want something beautiful to look at, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
Have you read The Thorn That Pierces Me? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!