Sleeping Beauty meets Jack the Giant-Killer in this retelling.
Lady Briar and Princess Rose are twins—but neither one knows this. When they were born—Rose with a flawless face and Briar with a protruding brow and drooping eyelid—the horrified king declared he could not raise such an ugly child as his heir. Briar, raised as the orphan of a minor noble, grows up best friends with Rose, though most other children and adults at court treat her with cruelty for her ugliness. Neither girl knows of the fairies who attended their christening and gave them a smattering of blessings, nor do they know of the wicked fairy who laid a curse that will take effect on their 16th birthday. As the girls grow, they become friends with Jack, a devastatingly poor villager. Together they form a secret society: the Giant Killers! The Giant Killers know that when they’re big enough, they’ll defeat the wicked giant who is always stealing their tiny kingdom’s food and treasure, leaving the kingdom poor and the villagers starving. The two intertwined fairy tales, with white characters in a Christian, medieval Europe–esque setting, proceed as expected, complicated only by the presence of Briar. Both plotting and writing feel underdone, with arbitrary plot elements and character swings driving events.
Though a pleasant tale of friendship, the melding of the two well-known stories enriches neither. (Fantasy. 9-11)