I have been so lucky this year – finding not one but two fantastic, amazing books that blew me away. 😀
Blurb: What if the Sleeping Beauty Refused to Wake Up?
The rescue wasn’t going at all how he planned. Prince Arpien intends to gain a throne and the sleeping beauty’s heart with a single kiss that wakes her from the evil fairy’s curse. But kissing the princess is only the beginning of a series of unforeseen obstacles: man-eating bugs, deadly spindles, talking lapdogs, and fiery pickles. The sleeping beauty is the biggest complication of all.
Princess Brierly is beautiful and Fairy-Gifted, but also…daft. After one hundred years of sleep imprisonment, Brierly refuses to believe this rescue is anything more than a tantalizing but doomed dream.
Arpien is drawn to the vibrancy beneath Brierly’s indifferent exterior. Can they reclaim her kingdom? Do they dare trust in the Prince of the old tales to help them battle the evil fairy who cursed Brierly? What is the price of waking beauty?
I fell in love with Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin immediately. From the first page it was clear I was in for a treat.
That opening line sets the tone for the book – often humorous, always adventurous, and sometimes profound in its simple truths. Arpien is such a sincere, earnest prince – the hero anyone would root for – heroic because he acts, even while he feels inadequate in doing so. Brierly is the princess you can’t help but sympathize with – abundantly fairy-gifted but wounded from a century of dreaming failed rescues. Nissa – the endearing distant cousin of Brierly’s, with a good head on her shoulders and a love of books and the old tales – whom you look forward to finding her strength.
I love the world-building, the character development, the different cultures in each kingdom, and the overall whimsicalness of the writing. Metallic trees, electric tree eels, giant mantises, creepy magic boars, goateed Strandish, dramaticly verbose Conquisani. Invisibilifiers, ill-intention-ometers, tornado seeds and swords with minds of their own. How, anytime Aprien isn’t sure what to do, he turns to memorized protocols…
“He whipped off his cap in the Half Bow of the Potential Wooer Upon First Stage Introductions and began again.”
“Arpien cleared his throat, removed his cap, and pressed his palms together in the Fifth Stance of Bereavement for Distant Relatives and Especially Good Cooks.”
“Arpien didn’t like tears. On the few occasions he’d tried to ease a maiden’s tears, she inexplicably started producing more. How to fix this? He assumed the Sixth Stance of Deep Mourning and flourished the Bow of Esteemed Members of Foreign Nation States. “My condolences on the loss of your-” “Pickle?” She offered him one from the clay crock.”
It’s a long book but one of those where you don’t notice other than being glad the story isn’t over because you never want it to end. I did think there was a slight lag at the beginning of the middle but it lasted all of a single chapter. The action and narrative are nicely balanced. Oh, and you know how dream sequences in books rarely work well? Well, in a unique story like this where dreams and waking overlap and dreams have just as real an effect as real-life, those scenes work. The depth and themes unfold slowly while not getting preachy, though I can see any reader who’s got a complex about such thing getting annoyed.
I may have gotten a little carried away with the quotes…
A small word of caution:
90% of the book is PG but there are hints and bits of darker material that might be a bit much for younger readers. Things that happen, in the dream world especially, can be violent. Brierly may not have died when she pricked her finger on that spindle but she was imprisoned for a century of torture, both physical and psychological, instead. It’s not a YA/MG book, though many of that age may be fine reading it. But protective/selective parents may want to read it first just in case.
Do you like epic, allegorical fantasies?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.