Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty is the fifth book in a fantasy series, "Tales from the Five Hundred Kingdoms" by Mercedes Lackey. I received an advanced reader's copy for review so, against my better judgment, I read this one without having read the previous four books in the series. The cover blurbs made it sound like you can read these in any order and I have to say that is, indeed, the case. The book stands alone just fine. This is also my very first Mercedes Lackey novel. I read a lot of fantasy books but somehow her books always seemed to be slanted towards a female audience and so I just always seemed to find other books to read. The cover of this one makes it look like a romance novel. 

As you can probably guess, this is another of those "mixed-up fairy tale" stories. The titular character, Rosalind (Rosa) is protected by a Godmother (Lilly) from the Tradition, i.e. that force that tends to lead all fairy tales in a certain direction. Since Rosa doesn't want to follow Tradition and just marry any ol' prince that comes along to kiss her awake, she and her Godmother scheme to thwart Tradition and end up happily ever after anyway.

Most of the book revolves around a huge contest to determine the best prince to marry Rosa and become King but that is sandwiched between various adventures. We get to see charcters from other fairy tales, some that take part in the story (The Seven Dwarves) and others that are merely referenced (Puss n' Boots, the Frog Prince, etc). This is a nice clean book, a bit too whimsical in some sections for my taste but surprisingly clever in others. The author remarks in the preface that she had fun writing it and that seems evident as you read it. I was a little disappointed in the characterization; there just wasn't enough build-up to get to know the characters before they were thrust into danger near the beginning. Rosa seemed a little flat but I did like Siegfried, one of the princes competing for her hand. The plot was pretty straightforward but there were a couple of surprises near the end that I didn't see coming and satisfactory as well.

If you like these sort of "mixed-up fairly tales" then this one is worth a try, although I would probably wait for the paperback or download to a Kindle.

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