The Wide-Awake Princess: 01/04/12
I've now had two less than stellar reads of retold Sleeping Beauty books. The first, an adult fantasy, was The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt and the second, a middle grade fantasy, is The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker. Both are receiving very good reviews but neither did it for me for similar reasons.
The Wide-Awake Princess looks at how the sleeping curse can be undone once the Princess and the rest of the kingdom have been put to sleep. If the entire castle goes under and is covered up in vines, how does word get out about the tragedy? E.D. Baker proposes a younger sister who is unaffected by magic and is therefore wide awake even as everyone else falls into a deep sleep around her.
It's a great premise but it gets lost along the way as the book is distracted by numerous side quests. Annie in her quest to find the perfect prince to awaken her big sister, stumbles through nearly every other western fairy tale. The problem, though, is that each one of these mini-adventures are too different from each other and from the original problem. They don't fit coherently into a well established world like Gail Levine's Biddle stories do.
That's not to say I hated the book. There are things I liked. Annie is a strong, likable character. I wish there were more middle grade female protagonists in quest books. Annie's anti-magic affliction was an interesting tool which she learned to use over the course of the book. I also liked the idea of wrangling unattached princes to have them all try kissing her big sister. I just wish more time and effort had been put on the quest and less time on railroading Annie through a bunch of well known fairy tales.
Comment #1: Thursday, January, 05, 2012 at 09:41:33
Comment #2: Saturday, January 07, 2012 at 14:55:34
For me there was too much emphasis on revisiting every fairytale possible instead of focusing on the core adventure.