Beauty Sleep: Once Upon a Time -- Cameron Dokey
I only just recently noticed Simon Pulse's Once Upon a Time series. I don't know how I missed it for so long -- I do love fairy tale retellings. My library doesn't seem to have any of them, so the plan is to ILL 'em all and get caught up ASAP.
Beauty Sleep is (of course) a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Due to some hurt feelings on the part of her mother's cousin, there was a curse placed on the infant princess Aurora. The curse, as I'm sure you already know, stated that she would live sixteen years, then prick her finger and die. And, as I'm sure you also know, Aurora's godmother followed that curse up with a blessing -- that the princess wouldn't die, but would fall asleep for a hundred years and be awakened by a kiss.
I suspect the author had great fun playing with the conventions of the fairy tale -- while Aurora tells her story, she discusses the version of events that everyone already knows and then how that version differs from the truth of her experience. For one, Aurora did grow up in a world full of magic, but it isn't at all the sort of magic that we tend to imagine:
This is a thing about magic that is greatly misunderstood. Magic isn't all that interested in change, which explains why things like love spells almost always backfire. And why those of us who grow up with magic don't use it nearly as much as people who haven't might think. (The boiling of tea water aside.) Nothing about magic is simple or straightforward, to be used lightly. And it's definitely not a substitute for what you can do just as well with your hands and your mind.
I'm not going to list the differences between Beauty Sleep and Sleeping Beauty. That would remove much of the fun. But I will say that there IS a Prince Charming in the book, even though the title was given to him ironically.
His name is actually Oswald.
There is also a Prince Ironheart. His name is also ironic.
I loved them, far, far more than I ever remember loving a Fairy Tale Prince before.
I do not, however, approve of the cover: Aurora is a joyful, curious, thoughtful creature, even with a Tragic Curse hanging over her, and I vastly prefer her to the boring girls who usually represent Sleeping Beauty. The cover art suggests those boring girls. It doesn't even remotely resemble Aurora, in mood, choice of clothing, or pose.
I was surprised at how invested I got, in both the characters and the story, especially because I already sort of knew the story and because this was such a tiny little book -- it may have just caught me on the right day, but it made me cry buckets*. About halfway through, I thought I realized where the story was headed, and it just broke my heart -- I should have had more faith in the power of Happily Ever After. Two thumbs way up.
*I say that because pretty much everything I read this weekend had the same effect on me. You should have seen me when I finished Chalice. Actually, strike that. No, you really shouldn't have.