by Rachel Lacey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a pretty sweet romance. Despite being the third of a series, it can be read alone and I don’t feel like you really lose anything by not knowing more about some of the other characters that were a focus in the series.
The characters were interesting and had depth, but I do feel like a few story elements sort of fell to the wayside by the end of the book. Piper’s issues, which were a central focus of the story, felt a little unresolved at the end.
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 mentioned above that this book could be read as a standalone and that is very true. There’s appearances of characters from the previous two books, but I didn’t feel like I was missing out. (Full disclosure: I have not read the first book in this series, but I did read the second.) I enjoyed these characters. Their personalities have depth and I felt like both main characters, Piper and Chloe, are distinct enough that I enjoyed each of their parts for different reasons. Piper’s character did feel just the slightest bit undefined. I understood her instant connection and essential love at first sight with Chloe, but her willingness to spend her vacation and jump into bed with her so quickly didn’t feel quite as believable.
I have a slight soft spot for long distance romances so that appealed to me and I felt it was very well done. Chloe’s insecurity when she sees Piper networking felt a bit like forced drama that kind of came out of nowhere. It seems like it was added just for the sake of adding drama. My only other issue I had was the fact that Piper’s anxiety about being on the subway and being recognized felt unresolved at the end of the book. This was a central plot point to the story and was a constant ting she was dealing with the whole time, yet it felt like it kind of dropped off at the end. I would have liked to see them maybe making plans to help her overcome it more or even an off hand comment that it was fixed in a time jump.
This was an enjoyable romance with an interesting plot, and so for my favorite in the series. I can honestly say I would enjoy seeing these two again.