The Sleeping Beauty
by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sleeping Beauty / 978-0-373-80315-6
I'm already a fan of Mercedes Lackey's writing style, but this book surprised me at how fun and humorous it was to read. At least once every five pages, I found myself re-reading a paragraph just because it had made me laugh out loud or because the prose was delightfully well-written. The story is something of a "fairy tale reboot" of the tale of Sleeping Beauty, but given that this is a "Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms" novel, it's pretty much a given that the characters are going to fight for the fate they WANT (rather than the fate they're "supposed" to have) every step of the way.
This is my first read at the Five Hundred Kingdoms novels (though I've since read the first in the series, "The Fairy Godmother", and have started the second "One Good Knight", on the strength of this novel), and I can honestly say that this book is completely accessible for new fans of the series. The backstory is explained clearly and succinctly in the first chapter - an impersonal force called "The Tradition" tries to force people into fairy tale lives, and Godmothers exist to facilitate and/or buck The Tradition to achieve the best ending for everyone involved - and from that point on, the readers will be completely adjusted to this strange and immersive world.
One of the things I loved deeply about this novel is the rich and robust characterization of everyone involved. The experienced and powerful 300-year-old fairy godmother, Lily, started with strong Mary Sue potential, but she's as realistic and vulnerable as anyone would be, working nights and weekends at a demanding job that has life and death in the balance. Rosa, the titular beauty, is fun and sassy, and maintains an instant and easy rapport with her suitors, Siegfried (yes, THAT one) and Leopold. The character interactions always feel realistic, warm, and humorous, and it's impossible to not root for both the suitors as they help each other through the fairy tale challenges to win the princess' hand.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys fairy tale reboots or Mercedes Lackey's writing. I started and finished the novel in the same day, simply because I could not put it down and had to race to the finish. The ONLY thing I didn't like about this novel was the cover (and that's only because the description of the princess on the first page simply doesn't match, but these things happen) - everything on the inside is pure gold.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
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