My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I can comfortably say that I was in a state of stunned silence when I finished this book. There is so much to unpack after reading it. There are quite a few somewhat uncomfortable themes to the story, but all I could really think about was the characters and really feeling for both the physical and emotional struggles they were going through. I grew to like them all immensely and cannot wait for the next book.
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.
I still don’t know how I truly feel after reading this book. It was fantastic, but left me with such a jumble of emotions that I’m finding it hard to separate them into something coherent.
There are several amazing characters from both sides of the war that you so easily grow attached to. I loved hopping back and forth between both sides and really getting to see how both sides are suffering. This story also does exactly what I hoped it would and brought these threads together by the end of the book. These two seemingly separate sets of lives are so tightly interwoven that I absolutely did not see it coming.
I really deeply for First Sister. Her situation is so hard to read and I just couldn’t stop. Lito as well has had is fair share of tragedy, but it’s his journey to seeing the truth about the war that makes his part in this story so amazing to follow along with.
This is another book that I feel very hesitant to actually spoil too much of. The extremely unpredictable plot twists are such a huge selling point and I would hate to ruin it for someone.
I highly recommend picking this book up and avoiding spoilers before you start. While there are a few things may push for comfort level a bit these aren’t handled gratuitously and the story just wouldn’t have the same very emotional impact without them.