Sleeping Beauty Wrap Up
Well, our twelfth month of fairy tales has come to a close, and we’ll address the future of this project in a bit, but for now, let’s talk about Sleeping Beauty.
I think I mentioned that I took a class on this fairy tale in college? Yeah, the predominant conclusion from that class was that this was a supremely boring fairy tale, and we weren’t wrong. And I think that’s why this month, like Beauty and the Beast’s month, every novelization was an improvement on the original.
We talked at the beginning of the month about how this is a story defined by passivity. And so, the number one thing I was looking for was stories that made the characters more active, turning the story into one where characters make things happen instead of just having things happen to them.
Let’s look at our Sleeping Beauties –
Beauty Sleep’s Aurore, who expresses to her father how she is defined by her need to go beyond the palace walls and live at least in part the kind of life that her subjects lead. Who leaves home in the middle of the night to get the curses plaguing her kingdom to follow her and allow peace to descend once more over her home. Who sacrifices seeing her parents again to do what is best for her kingdom.
The One Who Took the Really Long Nap’s Rose, who was driven by her desire to find where her talents lay, outside of what was fairy-given. Who wasn’t afraid to try and fail, who even took pleasure in her failure. Whose curse at the end of the spindle came about out of this desire to find what she did well. Who had a secret part of the spell to work out before she could be free.
A Kiss in Time’s Talia, who was a spoiled brat in the beginning of her tale, whose growth and story arc became entirely about growing into a decent person and learning how to look at the world beyond herself. Who came to be the kind of person who wanted to help others succeed. Who had to relive her curse a second time and find a way to help her prince find her and fight his demons to free her.
Thornspell’s Rue, who was asleep for almost the entirely of the novel and still managed to keep her prince out of danger, guiding him through the spirit world and always being present at the right moment to ensure that he saw what needed to be done. While asleep, guys.
Spindle’s End’s Rosie, who spent the whole of her story fighting against the image of the princess she was supposed to fulfill, albeit unknowingly. Who was awoken and went out and sought out and faced down her evil fairy three times, almost died, and still found the energy to save her best friend’s life.
Those are five pretty active and kick-ass Sleeping Beauty’s. And their princes are just as active. Ironheart, the unnamed Prince, Jack, Sig, Narl/Rowland, they all were invested in the finding out and helping and breaking of the various curses. Each novel this month built SB and her prince into a unit, working with each other, helping each other, working in tandem to break curses and wake princesses, and I just love it so much.
And also across the board, we’ve got better explained motivations for the parents, more defined conflict, more clearly drawn worlds. Each novel this month got full points across the board.
And as I said, we barely scratched the surface in terms of the Sleeping Beauty novels out there. We’ve also got:
The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey, which places the story in Victorian England and is one of Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, which you all know I adore.
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, which sets Sleeping Beauty during the Holocaust and is half-brilliant (the actual Sleeping Beauty narrative is wonderfully drawn; the modern-day framing story leaves a lot to be desired).
Briar Rose by Robert Coover, which is very post-modern and very meta and very not for everyone, but which is absolutely fascinating if you can get past all that.
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, The Wide-Awake Princess by ED Baker, and gosh, guys, so many others that I haven’t read. (And hopefully, one day, in publication for you all to read, a novel called Spinning Tales, Spinning Truth by yours truly. But that’s currently just a pipe dream).
Rankings are super hard this month, and don’t ask me to choose favorites; my answers will be super biased towards the novel that defined my adolescence.
But Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley, Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey, and A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn all come Highly Recommended, and Sleeping Beauty: the One Who Took the Really Long Nap by Wendy Mass and Thornspell by Helen Lowe are both Recommended.
And as for the future of Fairy Tale Reviews, well, don’t worry. I imagine I’ll continue to post reviews here, as there are tons of fairy tale novelizations out there and I’m sure gonna keep reading them. I won’t commit to any sort of schedule from here on out, but when I read one, I’ll review it. I’ll follow my checklists if applicable, and I’ll summarize the new fairy tale and throw a quick checklist together if not.
Until then, y’all, this is Cassie, signing off. :)