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In the Five Hundred Kingdoms, a force called the Tradition tries to fit likely young men and women down the well-trod paths of fairy tale characters. Now it’s trying to work its magic on Princess Rosamund but Godmother Lily is doing her best to thwart it. The Queen has just died and Lily sees the Tradition building, trying to force Rosmund into the role of Snow White. Lily consults with the King and they agree that Lily should secretly fulfill the role of “evil stepmother.” Someone else is trying to play off the Tradition’s magic though and a huntsman really does make off with Rosamund. After a rescue in which not one but two Prince/Hero types play a part, Rosa and Lily join forces to help Rosa choose her own destiny and ensure the safety of their small but wealthy kingdom once and for all.
The title of this one is a little misleading. There is actually more of Snow White or Rapunzel than Sleeping Beauty here. Still, I enjoy this series for the way the traditional stories are turned upside down and this mish-mash works for me.
Rosa and Lily are very likable characters. They very much set their own courses. Rosa has learned how to cook and sew, just in case she finds herself in a setting where Tradition would require those skills. She’s learned diplomacy and common sense from her mother, a commoner who married the King for love. Lily is a powerful Godmother who manages a particularly difficult kingdom alone and with ingenious solutions. Her arc is secondary, but I really liked it.
I definitely liked Siegfried. He’s the descendant of– let’s call them Norse gods. He’s become aware of the Tradition’s power as well and he’s doing his best to avoid an Oedipus-like fate that has been foretold. He’s big and brawny but he has a heart of gold and the wisdom to accept good counsel, no matter its source. I liked him from the beginning.
A lot of the story’s action takes place around a competition for the fair princess’s hand. Some of the trials the poor princes and heroes are set are hilarious! Herding sheep, collecting eggs, solving riddles, racing in full armor, dealing with enchanted objects… I really enjoyed these parts.
The Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite books so far in this series, and I recommend it for anyone looking for a mixed-up fairy tale.
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I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.