My rating: 4 of 5 star
I was completely blindsided by this book. I went into this expecting one thing and got a completely different story than I thought it would be. In a very good way! I loved what this story turned out to be. It was interesting, unique, and had a really good cast of characters.
I will say, I really do not think I would consider this book to be a romance. It was more of a mild subplot to something much bigger. I was also a bit disappointed in the ending. I really wish there had been just a bit more to it.
Full Review with Spoilers
I went into this book with high expectations. A sapphic retelling of a classic fairytale is something I will always jump on. I was extremely happy to see that this book delivered and then some. The entire story is told from the perspective of Alyce, the traditional villain of Sleeping Beauty. The books acts as much like an origin story as much as it is a retelling.
Alyce is a fantastic character. She is told she is essentially evil and dark her whole life, that she is something other. It was heartbreaking to see how she deals with this her whole life and as much as she tries not to be that person, it definitely shaped who she is. She does what is essentially considered bad things because it is what is expected of her and what she is brought up to believe is the only thing she can do. Aurora is also a great main character. She is a princess and at first glance Alyce’s total opposite. The relationship that builds between them through the book is so well done. It was great to see them connect over their general dislike of everyone around them then it progress to Alyce trying to help her break the curse that will kill her when she turns 21. I loved seeing Alyce’s emotion progress and escalate even if she could quite see it for what it is.
There was a very interesting magic, social structure, and history developed in this book. I especially loved how the decline in ruling from a Queendom to a Kingdom where the queens have essentially given all their power to her husband over time really hinted at the same type of direction the story was going to take. The author did a great job placing these hints and connecting everything in a smooth flow that never felt like an information overload to the reader.
The storyline flowed so very well. There was a fantastic mix of emotional drama, angst and the sweeter buildup on the romance side. The romance was definitely not the focus of the story, though it was very much there. It really focus on Alyce’s build up to becoming a villain. And it was such a ride! Once Alyce crosses that line into actually killing people I have no idea what I should feel. Up to that point we get to see everything that has just been stacking against her and in a way we really see the justification for her actions. I ended the book completely blown away by the turn of events. We see Alyce exactly how we expect, guarding a sleeping princess against a kingdom that hates her.
This was a great retelling that gives the reader a new way of looking at a classic and very well known fairytale. Good story telling and great character development make this an extremely enjoyable read and one you won’t want to put down.
This book was such a wild ride! I went into this expecting a pirate story with romance and a twist of some nature. The book started out exactly how I expected, and to be honest, I kept feeling like I had read something similar before. Catalina is Spanish noble woman on her way to marry a man she’s never met, but is taken by pirates and held for ransom. Sam is the cabin boy who is actually hiding her gender because she has no family left and pirate life keeps her off the streets and fed, a plan put into motion by her father before he died. Naturally Sam is smitten and wants to keep Catalina safe from the ruffians. This is entirely what I expect when everything took a complete turn.
Sam and Catalina end up on a strange island they soon realize is Atlantis, created by an alien race a very long time ago. Though time is irrelevant on the island because it jumps through time collecting inhabitants from a varying array of time periods, none of them able to leave again after. I absolutely loved this! It was so different an unexpected. I adore science fiction and this was a nice blend of genres.
There was a very colorful cast of characters as well. The conversations between them were entertaining due to the various styles of speech and understanding. It made for a lot of interesting dynamics between characters as well as the development of the main characters, Sam and Catalina. Though, despite the fact that they where the main characters of the story, I really felt they were more so the catalysts for the story than what the story centered on. It was Catalina’s educated upbringing that allowed them to discover the way off of the island though.
The few issues I had I feel are minor in the grand scheme of things. I did feel like Sam and especially Catalina jumped into the camp of acceptance a wee bit too fast. It seemed a bit too streamlined. The romance also felt like much more of a subplot and realistically, the story didn’t even need it. The plot would not have suffered without it. Catalina’s sudden questioning of her sexuality and interest in Sam was cute, but wasn’t what kept me reading.
The ending was also lackluster. The climatic battle and race against the clock to escape the island before it sunk was enthralling, but once they made it off the story just feels unfinished. Yes the author attempted to give us a glimpse into their lives with an epilogue consisting of fake news articles and emails, but I wanted a little bit more. I do think it would require another book entirely to really explain how each character assimilated to life in the year 2025, but the articles where just too sparse for my taste.
Overall, this was a fantastic story that took some really interesting turns and kept me engaged. It deserved to be much much longer.