Published by Penguin Group USA on 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fiction, Gothic
Source: Penguin Group USA
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I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time....
And so begins Elise Dalriss's story
When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a tale about a beautiful princess awakened by a handsome prince, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered - and she is the only one left who knows the truth of what happened so many years ago.
As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back in to the magnificent world behind the opulent palace walls. Fleeing a hardscrabble existence and personal tragedy, she builds a new life for herself as a servant to the royal family and quickly rises within the castle hierarchy. As Elise proves herself a loyal confidante, she is drawn into the lives of an extraordinary cast of women: a beautiful queen who wakes each morning with tears on her pillow, an elderly spinster who in heartache shuts herself away, a princess who yearns to be free, and the ambitious and frightening sister who cannot accept the fact that she will never rule. Elise has guarded their secrets - and her own - for a lifetime. While Beauty Sleeps is her story.
In this rich and compelling novel of love and terror, friendship and fate, we are introduced to a heroine of extraordinary determination - the true heart of a legend - who reveals what it really takes to reach happily ever after.
I received this book for free from Penguin Group USA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I’ve said time and time again that I have a special fondness for fairy tale retellings. I’ve been fascinated with The Brothers Grimm since I was a teenager and, having grown up on Disney cartoons and musicals, it’s no surprise that I leap for anything that looks to have even a hint of an association with fairy tales. That’s, unfortunately, led to some pretty gnarly reads (Ninja Cinderella, anyone?) but I’m happy to say that WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT was just nearly perfect. So nearly perfect that I may have shed a tear when it came to an end.
Let me give you an example of how engrossing this book was. The hardcover edition has 432 pages. Last night, I curled up in bed having read 70ish of those pages throughout the day. I thought… how in the world will I put this book down? And that was the last thought outside of the story I can remember having. I closed the book at 1am with a tear and a sigh and I woke up this morning completely engrossed in the story, still. The book may have finished last night at 1am, but my imagination is still blooming. That, my friends, is what I love about a good book.
Now, WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT is not perfect – don’t get me wrong. There were some issues I struggled with, such as the cheesy way the narrator continued over, and over, and over again to foreshadow some great tragedy ahead. I also struggled a bit with the ending as everything seemed to tie up very neatly for a story that had been so convoluted. Also, by the end of the book, I wasn’t sure who exactly the story was being narrated to and why and I had to revisit the beginning to get a sense of that (although I’m still not really sure).
But all those things aside, WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT is a strong re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story that fits magnificently into a world that’s welcomed Frozen and Maleficent into being in the last year. Strong female characters, an intriguing way of dealing with the fabled curse, and a story that is more real than the fairy tales of my youth, WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT reads like a strong, historical fiction novel that will ring very, very familiar in the imagination of the person reading it.
Check out these reviews!
- “While Beauty Slept is a gorgeous retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, fleshed out and made whole through Elizabeth Blackwell’s words.“ – S. Krishna’s Books
- “Overall, While Beauty Slept was a well written and compelling fantasy novel, and I await Blackwell’s next work, although whether I read it depends on what it’s about. ” – The Literary Flaneur
- “Even with my minor reservations, While Beauty Slept swept me up completely. It was the first reading experience I’ve had in a while where I felt like I was being carried along by the story’s current, unaware of what might happen next or which character it would happen to.” – Alexa Loves Books