Annie has been home less than a week after finding a prince to wake up sister Gwennie, aka Sleeping Beauty (The Wide-Awake Princess, 2010), when her father demands she undertake another quest: seek the dwarf who turned Gwennie’s beloved Prince Beldegard into a bear and convince him to undo the spell.
Annie’s conflicted response—gratitude that her newly awakened family no longer shuns her for her gift for repelling magic; resentment that they are so quick to send her away—is quickly sketched, especially in relation to Gwennie. Annie agrees to go after stipulating that Gwennie wait at home while she and her sweetheart Liam, led by Beldegard, make the trip. Surprisingly, Gwennie runs away from the castle to join their journey across many lands and through several fairy tales. As before, readers will delight in the twists the author makes to the familiar tales, seamlessly weaving them into the plot, from “Snow White and Rose Red” to “The Three Little Pigs” and more, but despite the often-comical interactions, there is not much action. The hunt eventually leads the foursome to Snow White’s home with the dwarves (who knew an eighth dwarf had gone bad?). Nor does the stream of sometimes-petulant bickering provide insight into the characters, leaving the sisters’ relationship unplumbed and making the romantic resolutions feel shallow. The hint of a future romance between Snow White and Maitland, Beldegard’s formerly fratricidal brother, is particularly disturbing.
Recommend only to those set on an undemanding jaunt through retold fairy tales. (Fantasy. 8-12)