A loose “Sleeping Beauty” retelling emphasizes political intrigue.
Aurora awakens from her 100-year sleep to a stranger’s kiss and an unstable kingdom. The bumbling, adorkable Prince Rodric is kind, but his parents, the austere, remote queen and seemingly jovial yet cruel king, both want to use Aurora and Rodric for their own purposes. The plodding pace produces a plot that primarily consists of Aurora’s observing problems and doing nothing. Everyone seems to believe Aurora will bring peace to the kingdom, but very little reason is given for this—a fact that may confuse thoughtful readers. At first, Aurora shows spirit by escaping from the castle at night, but these escapades are short-lived. She spends the remainder of the book feeling oppressed by expectations and bemoaning the fact that no one sees beyond her beauty. While Aurora’s frustration at being objectified is valid and understandable, her self-imposed lack of agency and constant complaining present her as petulant and indecisive—a beautiful, pale (a fact that is fetishized and harped on constantly) doll. Thomas plays fast and loose with elements of the fairy tale, making changes that would be understandable if they appeared to serve a higher purpose than plot convenience. The sluggish pace and dull protagonist may dissuade readers from continuing with what, given the ending, seems to be a planned series.
Uninspiring. (Fantasy. 14-18)