My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was such a trip of a story. It flows from a sarcastic adventure to genuinely emotional moments of feelings no one actually wants to have and back again. I had so much fun reading this book, trying to figure out bits of mystery, enjoying little bits of combat and necromancy, and then actually getting way too emotional for the last half of the book.
I really loved the way the author lets all the emotional punches out little bits at a time. We really get the opportunity to reevaluate our opinions on nearly every character and it’s fantastic. The pacing was just right for this too. I never felt like anything dragged out or changed too suddenly.
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.
Like nearly everyone I know, I was instantly drawn in to the description “lesbian necromancers in space.” This book delivered so much more than that. Gideon and Harrow have one of the most interesting relationships I’ve ever read. The absolute hatred they feel towards each other in the beginning is balanced so perfectly with the fact that they need each other. I love how well what’s really between them is slowly revealed to Gideon over the course of the story, because really, she doesn’t even understand exactly what’s there. I was so sure I felt one particular way about Harrow. She comes of like a complete ass, especially to Gideon. In the later half of the story though we, and Gideon, get to learn why. Harrow is so much more complex and deep than she lets on it it just works so well.
While Gideon and Harrow are perfect, there’s a rather large cast of characters that are all unique and interest in different ways. I even found myself gravitating just as strongly to some, particularly Palamedes and Camilla of the Sixth House.
The pacing is terrific as well. The book start out a bit slow, building up without bogging it down with a lot of exposition. This does sadly add a minor issue to the story. It’s a bit light on worlds building so it can be a bit disorienting. I felt like I needed to read the entire book to full feel a part of the world. Normally I think this would be an issue and take away from the story, but it worked well for this one. The setting becomes more comfortable as you read and you are focused so much on the story anyhow that you sort of forget that you don’t know as much as you would normally. Once I realized this is how everything was coming together it was just one more thing that kept me hooked. (As a side note, the additional content that is included with the paperback does help if you need a bit more guidance.)
Even though this is a spoiler potential review I can’t actually bring myself to talk more than just briefly about the ending. Everything takes a HUGE sharp turn and is just full throttle with shock. I can only recommend reading the book to find out. It’s completely worth the journey.
This was a fantastic book that was different and refreshing. I can’t stress enough that it does a great job of pulling you in and gives you such great characters you can’t help but get way too attached to.