Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from NetGalley for review
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley and ended up enjoying it. It’s more of a straight-up fantasy with some adventure and romance than a fairy tale retelling, or maybe a fairy tale extension? Anyway, if you approach this as a YA fantasy novel rather than a fairy tale retelling I think you will enjoy it more.
Aurora is actually the daughter of Sleeping Beauty and has been fairy-blessed with gifts of her own. Unfortunately Aurora’s kingdom is run by some evil ogres who want to use her to bring darkness over the whole land. As a result she and her brother have been hidden away in opposite ends of the kingdom. On their yearly journey to meet, her brother is kidnapped by the ogres. Aurora flees the fairy kingdom dressed as a boy in an effort to raise an army and save her brother, but stumbles upon the conceited Prince Niklaas instead. Niklaas is looking for a royal bride to break a curse of his own.
The book switches viewpoint between Aurora, Niklaas, and the ogre queen.
Some parts of this book were interesting and some a bit weird. I really didn’t like Niklaas much, he’s pretty much a conceited asshole. I also didn’t like the whole moral that because Niklaas met the right girl he was able to change. Uh yeah, I am sure this happens sometimes but mostly a man like Niklaas isn’t going to change because he meets one girl dressed as a boy.
I also thought the book was a bit overcomplicated and wordy at points. By that I mean there’s a lot in here that is supposed to go towards world-building, kingdom politics, and lineage of characters. However, that really isn’t all the necessary in a one book story and tended to drag the book down. I also thought that the world-building that was done wasn’t that successful. By the end of it all I was still a bit confused about why Aurora being sacrificed by the ogres and how this was going to open some gate of darkness.
There were things about the story I enjoyed too. Jay did an interesting job of extending some fairy tales and incorporating more than one fairy tale into the story. Aurora has a kiss that makes mean blind to everything but her and she is obviously tied into the whole Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Niklaas is under a curse that has turned all of his brothers into swans and he is next (The Twelve Swans). The witch they meet up with talks about her daughter who is kept in a tower because of an addiction (Rapunzel).
I also ended up enjoying the romance between Aurora and Niklaas overall. Although I did get frustrated by the constant lying and deception between the two.
Overall this was a decent YA fantasy that I enjoyed reading. I did think that it could have been less wordy and that the explanation behind why/how the orges were going to open a gate of darkness could have been better. I also didn’t like the whole dynamic of Niklaas being a jerk, but being able to change because of Aurora’s love. I enjoyed how the different fairy tales were entwined together in the story though. Recommended to those who enjoy YA fantasy with some fairy tale retelling elements.