Prince Leo and ugly Rose Red make epic, separate journeys across kingdoms and to the dragon-infested doors of Death in this fantasy from an evangelical publisher.
The companion work to Heartless (2010), this illuminates different aspects of the same tale. Mysteriously veiled, kindhearted Rose Red dwells up the mountainside; her grotesque appearance frightens villagers. Leo, not just the wealthy boy he first appears, but in fact the Prince of Southlands, befriends her, yet many believe he’s actually bewitched, not making this choice of his own free will. Daylily, the lovely, spirited—but not especially sympathetic—maiden to whom Leo is promised, lacks the depth of the other two protagonists. After dark forces invade dreams of both Leo and Rose Red and then a dragon attacks and enslaves their land, each is faced with hard choices of the potential costs of their efforts to defeat the rising evil. They receive guidance from ethereal voices whose trustworthiness they must judge. From frequent allusions, it’s obvious that a complex back story provides depth to this faerie world, but readers must often guess at its components, making some aspects of the tale confusing. The conclusion leaves the story unfinished, setting up the next entry in the series.
This inventive fairy tale with subtle Christian overtones includes enough suspenseful content to make it entertaining, in spite of leaving too many somewhat-bewildering threads hanging. (Fantasy. 11-18)