Faerie Tale Friday · YA Book Review

Faerie Tale Friday: Sleeping Beauty by K.M. Shea (Timeless Fairy Tales #8)

The Book:

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Book Title: Sleeping Beauty

Book Author: K.M. Shea

Page Count: 245

Publishing Date: December 15th, 2016

Publisher: Self Published

Date Read: January 26th, 2018

Synopsis:  Briar Rose, a clever peasant girl, feels only pity for the mysterious Princess Rosalinda–the hidden princess who was cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep until true love’s kiss awakens her. But her pity turns into horror when Briar learns she is the secret princess, and Isaia, her childhood friend, is really a Magic Knight sworn to protect her. 

Briar reluctantly embraces her new life as a princess, and is reunited with her mother, father, and her grandfather–the king. But calamity strikes when Carabosso, the evil mage who cursed her as a baby, returns and plunders the countryside. Unfortunately, the king refuses to dispatch the Magic Knights to protect the people, and instead orders the knights to stay in the capital to guard Briar. But Briar is not the demure princess her family desires, and she vows to save her people if her parents and grandfather will not. 

Will the curse consume Briar, or–with help from Isaia–can she beat Carabosso at his own game? 

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K.M Shea Talks About The Original Sleeping Beauty:

“Sleeping Beauty was published in French by Charles Perrault in 1697. (Perrault’s name might sound familiar, as he also published versions of Puss in Boots and Cinderella.) Though Perrault crafted the most recognizable elements of sleeping beauty as we know it today, he actually based his story on the a fairy tale written by an Italian poet, Giambattista Basile. The story–which was published in 1634, after Basile died–was called Sun, Moon, and Talia.

Sun, Moon, and Tailia, in turn, was based off several folk stories–including a chapter/episode of a lyrical poetry series titled Perceforest that was collected in the early 1300s. The specific sleeping beauty chapter is titled Histoire de Troïlus et de Zellandine, and is considered the first of its kind–its kind being the sleeping princess stories as there are quite a few.”

As we learned in my previous post, turns out there’s a ton of Sleeping Beauty stories out there, however, my adaptation is based mostly on the Brothers’ Grimm Little Briar Rose and Charles Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty. Since Little Briar Rose draws its origins from Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty, I’m going to focus on Perrault’s story but add in the bits and pieces that make Little Briar Rose different. So strap in, Champions, and prepared to be seriously weirded out!

You know that Disney animated classic Sleeping Beauty we all love and cherish? It bears only the slightest resemblance to the actual fairy tale. Here’s how the original goes down.

A king and a queen who have wanted children forever finally have a child–a little girl. They invite seven fairies to her christening with the idea that they would all become her godmothers. The royal couple gives the fairies gold plates and jeweled goblets. An eighth fairy shows up  and is given only a fine china plate and a crystal cup. She hadn’t been invited because she was super old and spent most of her time up in a tower, so everyone thought she was dead. The china plate/crystal cup really tick off the old fairy, so she waits until six of the seven fairies give their gifts to the princess (Voice of a nightingale, good at dancing, beautiful, etc) and then proclaims that the princess will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The final fairy attempts to reverse the curse , but she is too young and is only able to change it so instead of dying the princess will fall into a deep sleep for 100 years, and then be woken by a prince. (A difference in Little Briar Rose is that the old fairy shows up and curses the princess because she wasn’t’ invited, not because her plate and cup weren’t as nice.)

So the king proclaims that all spinning wheels must be destroyed, and no one can use or own one, or they will be killed. (This is a really stupid idea because it means that everyone in this  kingdom has no way to make fabrics and thread, so either textile imports are going to go through the roof, or everyone is going  to be walking around in their birthday suit. Either way, it will bring financial and emotional woes to the people.)

The princess grows up and whens hes’ 15 or 16, and has been left alone in the palace, she finds an old woman spinning. Curious, because she had never seen a spinning wheel, she picks up the spindle, pricks herself, and falls asleep.

The fairy who countered the curse hears about it and pops by the palace where she’s filled in by the king and queen. She realizes that the princess will be very upset to wake up and learn that everyone she knew is dead/gone, so she casts a spell on the palace and everyone falls asleep. (In Little Briar Rose, the entire palace is instantly spelled with her and the good fairy never returns.)

A huge hedge grows around the palace, protecting everyone inside, and though many men try to fight their way past the hedge none succeed. Eventually 100 years pass. The sleeping princess is now just a legend, but a prince from a neighboring kingdom decides to check it out.

“Sleeping Beauty by Paul Meyerheim. Totes not creepy, am I right?”

In a case of good luck, the prince happens to arrive just as the requisite 100 years is up, so he strolls up to the hedge that retreats before him. (While I applaud the prince’s sense of adventure, he really doesn’t do anything to prove he’s worthy of the princess.)

He makes his way all the way up to where the princess is sleeping. In Perrault’s story he waltzes in just as she is waking up and the two fall in love at first sight (Because it’s always a good idea to fall in love with some stranger who randomly shows up in your bedroom?) and in the story of Briar Rose he kisses her and then she awakens.

The couple eventually go downstairs where the king and queen give them permission to marry and they live happily ever after…or so it goes for the Brothers Grimm princess!

Perrault’s story continues where the good-for-nothing-prince fails to tell his parents he’s married! He splits his time between the princess’s kingdom and his own, has two kids with her, and still doesn’t tell his parents! (He withholds  the info because apparently his mom is part ogre and might do something bad.) He waits until his dad dies (His dad being the NICE GUY, not his ogre mother who was the whole reason he didn’t want to reveal his marriage) and he’s made the king before he finally reveals that he’s got a wife and kids. And after he finally brings them to his kingdom, he rides off to war, leaving his family with the mother that he previously worked against so she wouldn’t learn they existed.

The ogre mother has it out for the princess, and she tries to eat the two kids, but the prince’s servants are apparently better people than the prince himself, because they protect the royal family. The prince returns and the ogre mom kills herself. (Well. That escalated quickly!)

It’s worth noting that the Brother’s Grimm divided out this second half of sleeping beauty, and made it into a different fairy tale. Additionally, it’s also worth noting that Perrault cleans up this story quite a bit, as in the story he based it on—Sun, Moon, and Talia—the prince is actually already married and is, bar none, the worst prince I have ever read of in a fairy tale. (I don’t want to get into it, but if you want to read a summary of the story click here!)

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The Review:

 

Sleeping Beauty reads like a dream. It is whimsical and elegant. For those who love a soothing, beautiful faerie tale, this one is for you!

I was definitely more familiar with this faerie tale before reading. Sleeping Beauty was one of my favorite Disney movies. I even remember having read the Grimm’s version of the tale, so there were few surprises left this time. That was not a bad thing though.

I loved Shea’s version, as it was lyrical and enchanting. It had a bit of a slow start, but built in intensity and ended on a “happily ever after” note. It not only offered the moral of a slow building love, but also spoke volumes on the importance of friendship, kindness, and strong, educated, independent women.

In comparison to the last few books in the series, this one was a little softer. It took some time to build in to the story, and felt a little like dream walking. I honestly enjoyed this aspect, because it matched the “feel” of the original tale of Sleeping Beauty. How else would you have captured the essence of a story that involved the entire palace sleeping for 100 years?

Shea’s version of Sleeping Beauty held her gorgeous writing style and vivacious world building. Even though the story was old and familiar, it felt new and vibrant. And, of course her characters were dynamic and lovable!

Princess Rosalinda, or Briar Rose, was another amazing Shea character. She was bold, intelligent, and clever. She was kind, caring, and obstinately true to her self. For someone who didn’t find out she was royalty until she was 17, she was certainly a noble character.

I just loved lady Delanna. I know I’ve said this with each book in this series, but K.M. Shea has a talent for writing amazing friendships. Delanna was an amazing friend to Rose, as she was loyal, caring, and brave. She also had quite a hidden talent, that put a few of the knights to shame.

And, speaking of the knights. Isaia was a magnificently noble knight, and man. He was a friend, first and foremost, which spoke volumes on his character, but he was also fiercely loyal, loving, and strong.

After having read 7 books in this series, one would think I would have grown tired of the faerie tale retellings, but I have loved each and every one! This one was quite predictable, but still highly enjoyable and beautiful. It held friendship, beauty, humor, and a fight between good and evil. It offered an amazing “happily ever after” ending, and a surprise twist that left me smiling and wanting more! 4.5 stars.

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Thank you to the author for sending me this free e-copy in exchange for my honest review, and as part of my Faerie Tale Friday posts.

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K.M. Shea On The Morals In Sleeping Beauty:

Today we’re going to dig into the morals and themes presented in Sleeping Beauty.

Sleeping Beauty was one of the few fairy tales that made me pause and actually wonder what on earth anyone could find instructive/helpful about it. (I say that with all my love, because really, have you entertained any fairies recently?) Thankfully Perrault–who as you might remember the Brothers Grimm’s story was an orally shared version of his tale–spells out the moral at the end of the book.

Perrault says the moral is–I kid you not–be patient in waiting for love. I was actually surprised at the sound logic behind that, and the way he phrases it is actually quite humorous. See for yourself!

“Many a girl has waited long
For a husband brave or strong;
But I’m sure I never met
Any sort of woman yet
Who could wait a hundred years,
Free from fretting, free from fears.

Now, our story seems to show
That a century or so,
Late or early, matters not;
True love comes by fairy-lot.
Some old folk will even say
It grows better by delay.

Yet this good advice, I fear,
Helps us neither there nor here.
Though philosophers may prate
How much wiser ’tis to wait,
Maids will be a sighing still —
Young blood must when young blood will!”

For those who are curious, yes, Perrault wrote this in his French retelling. The website I found it at said the translation of the moral (because it was omitted by earlier translations) comes from Perrault’s Fairy Tales, translated by S. R. Littlewood (London: Herbert and Daniel, 1912).

Though it might seem odd, this is really a moral I could get behind, and that’s partially why I made Briar and Isaia childhood friends and their relationship so long in developing. But while patience in love is the moral, there are still other bits of symbolism and themes in the story that deserve a closer look.

I briefly mentioned it previously, but when the king proclaimed that all spinning wheels should be destroyed and anyone caught owning/using one would be put to death, it was an inspiredly-stupid idea. This fairy tale takes place in a time where the only way for the general populace to produce thread/fabrics, was to spin it. By destroying all the spinning wheels in the kingdom, he was robbing his people of a way to clothe themselves–not to mention I imagine he put a ton of people out of business. (Think about it–not just spinners and weavers, but farmers who owned sheep would now have to take the wool to a neighboring kingdom so it could be put to use! The same goes for flax farmers.)

Furthermore, it would greatly impact the kingdom’s economy. Prices on fabrics would hike up drastically because everything would have to be imported, and while other countries would profit the people would suffer.

But that’s only if people actually obeyed the king. We know they didn’t because the princess pricks her finger on a spindle, so there’s still some machines around. The King’s order is clearly too bull-headed and impossible that the people cannot follow it. It’s very similar to the “turning-straw-to-gold” bit of Rumpelstiltskin. (Which, as you might recall, is extra impossible because straw can’t be used in spinning or for anything, so the king was telling the girl to make something from nothing.)

I feel like the King’s stubborn actions are a second moral. It shows that you can make unreasonable demands based off fear and terror, and what you fear may still come to pass. In fact, reading about the king’s proclamation is what inspired me to have Briar set off the curse on her own free will. Briar’s family–like the king from the original–are filled with fear, and they make poor decisions as a result. Briar, however, acknowledges her fear and steps forward to face her curse anyway. If Isaia hadn’t been so stubborn, her idea to set off the curse would have been smashing, and in the end she’s the hero–not because she fought but because she stirred the Magic Knights and was determined to face Carabosso if no one else would.
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Discussion Questions:

Do you agree with Kitty’s take on the morals and theme of this story?
Did you find any different morals or themes from other retellings, or the Disney version?
Do you look for morals and themes in faerie tales?
What morals and themes do you enjoy the most?
Have you read a Sleeping Beauty retelling that you absolutely loved?

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Faerie:

 

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Miss Fluff / Shop / Society6

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7 thoughts on “Faerie Tale Friday: Sleeping Beauty by K.M. Shea (Timeless Fairy Tales #8)

  1. ❤️ as usual. This post also made me laugh quite a bit. What is it with these Kings and their short sighted rules?!
    Interesting take on the morals that love is worth the wait… very metaphorical here but then beautifully illustrated!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I honestly recommend starting with number 1 and reading them all because even though they are standalones, they still connect in fun ways with common characters. But, if there is one particular retelling you are more interested in, go for it. Puss In Boots has been my favorite so far though.

        Liked by 1 person

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