Review of SLEEPING BEAUTY’S DAUGHTERS by DIANE ZAHLER
(review based on an advance reading copy)
As one could probably guess, SLEEPING BEAUTY’S DAUGHTERS twists a certain classic fairy tale. I did an entire post once about retold fairy tales: some people adore them and others detest them. As for me, I love skilled retellings, but there needs to be a new angle or theme or character or something to make reading a familiar framework worthwhile.
This one wasn’t quite as retold as I had hoped, utilizing a common fairy tale twist method (plainly stated in the title): we follow Sleeping Beauty’s daughters as her curse returns to plague them. In general, the book is a patchwork of recognizable elements without much that’s distinctly new.
The plotting and magic system both feel rather loose, with the primary goal being moving the story forward. I had so many unanswered questions about how the curse, among other things, worked. The story is indeed very fast paced, which makes it an easy read, but the pace occasionally feels contrived, the victories too easy or coincidental. The focus remains on helping Aurora and Luna towards the next adventure more than exploring the why and how of whatever happened most recently.
As I say, though, there needs to be at least one factor that distinguishes a retold fairy tale from its mother work. To be fair I would say SLEEPING BEAUTY’S DAUGHTERS has more unique factors than only one (a natural voice and strong writing for two others), but it’s the main characters - said daughters Aurora and Luna - who elevated this story for me. Their sibling relationship echoes with believability and their concern for each other made me care more than I might have about either one of them as an individual. Categorization aside (fantasy, young adult, fairy tale retelling, etc.) this is primarily a simple, sweet tale about sisters.