by Shonna Slayton
Published on October 4, 2016 by Entangled Teen
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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In a world where fairies lurk and curses linger, love can bleed like the prick of a finger…
Briar Rose knows her life will never be a fairy tale. She’s raising her siblings on her own, her wages at the spinning mill have been cut, and the boy she thought she had a future with has eyes for someone else. Most days it feels like her best friend, Henry Prince, is the only one in her corner…though with his endless flirty jokes, how can she ever take him seriously?
When a mysterious peddler offers her a “magic” spindle that could make her more money, sneaking it into the mill seems worth the risk. But then one by one, her fellow spinner girls come down with the mysterious sleeping sickness…and Briar’s not immune.
If Briar wants to save the girls—and herself—she’ll have to start believing in fairy tales…and in the power of a prince’s kiss.
Slayton put an interesting twist on the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty. I immediately grabbed for this book for no other reason than it’s a fairy tale re-telling. Set in the late 1800’s, we meet Briar who’s working to help support her family at a mill.
Much of the original story plays a role in this re-telling with little tidbits here and there to connect the two, but when it came down to it, I found myself skimming sections to see if the story picked up at any point. Slayton has a good writing style in all aspects except pacing. I found it easy to digest the historical setting mixed with the fantastical elements of fairies and magic, but the plot moved far too slow to keep me engaged. Often, I set the book aside.
Part of this, I think, came from the fact that there simply wasn’t enough fantasy for me. Much of the story surrounds the daily lives of Briar and the community around her. This would have been fine if a fantastical element hadn’t been introduced into the world, I think, since it came later on. By that point, the stage had been set for a historical novel and combining the two proved to be more jolting than anything.
But this is an unusual take on Sleeping Beauty, which I appreciated. I wouldn’t say the characters were super interesting or anything, falling into certain tropes, but I liked them well enough. Briar, especially, proved to be a strong heroine who was thoughtful and caring, given a lot in life that wasn’t especially happy but handling it all in stride.
The world had a lot of character on its own. I loved the crafting of the town and how Slayton provided such beautiful details to give you the sense that you were there. Unfortunately, those same details bogged the plot down and kept the pace slow.
This was an interesting re-telling and had some good elements to it but ultimately was an average read, though I’d recommend it to readers who are looking for a different take on Sleeping Beauty!