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This retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" by debut novelist Blackwell is faithful to the original while offering a fresh interpretation. Though set amid the pomp and pestilence of a fictionalized medieval kingdom, the novel's characters-a couple dogged by infertility, a young girl resisting overprotection, a family torn apart by jealousy-have a contemporary resonance. Its narrator, Elise Dalriss, is raised on a farm, but feels most at home in the royal castle. Rising quickly through the ranks there, she becomes handmaiden to the queen, allowing her to witness the royal family's troubles firsthand. Unable to produce an heir, Queen Lenore turns to the king's aunt, Millicent, who is reputed to have magical powers. The queen bears a healthy girl with Millicent's help, but not before King Ranolf grows resentful of his aunt's imperiousness. Millicent is banished from the kingdom, becoming one of many dangers beyond its walls, while Princess Rose grows up sheltered against her aunt's parting threats. When her parents' elaborate defenses fail to protect their daughter, it is Elise, her confidante, who must keep Rose alive. Elise's own tale grounds the novel, and the twists that resolve the women's stories are both convincing and moving. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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In this retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story as seen through the eyes of Elise, a loyal servant and confidante to the royal family, readers follow Elise as she strives to learn how to be a servant while rising quickly through the ranks, balancing her new life as a friend to the queen with her downstairs friendships with maids and servants. Royal intrigue mingles with fairy tale lore and when the curse falls, as readers know it will, it is unexpected and heartrending. Even if at times the story appears to be following a predictable route, the surprises keep coming, and events dance around one another to form a new path to the climax. VERDICT Blackwell, previously a reporter and romance writer, makes her historical fiction debut with a gripping tale full of romance, secrets, and promises made and broken. This beautiful, original reinterpretation of a classic story is engrossing and often surprising. Recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings or gothic historical fiction.-Katie -Lawrence, Chicago (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In this magical reimagining of the fifteenth-century fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty's story is told from the perspective of Elise Darliss, a poor farm girl who finds a place in the castle as a maid. Thanks to a strong work ethic and her rare ability to read and write, she eventually earns the position of private maid to the queen herself. The queen is kind, and Elise comes to know her well, and when the legendary princess is born, she befriends her, too. The rest of the tale is famously well-known, but Blackwell treats readers to a retelling that makes historical fiction of the fantasy. And, while she relates what really happened at the castle, we also get to see Elise bloom as she grows from farm girl to respectable lady. The story is dark and enchanting, if a little contrived at times, and Blackwell's rendering of the medieval setting is rich and detailed. Following in the inspired footsteps of Gregory Maguire's fairy-tale twists, this debut novel puts a spellbinding new spin on a classic yarn.--Ophoff, Cortney Copyright 2010 Booklist