By Rhiannon Thomas (HarperTeen, February 24, 2015)
Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.
One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.
Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.
As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.
Carolyn's thoughts on the book:
I'm a big fan of YA retellings of fairy tales (I actually compiled a list of some of my favorites - here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2), so when I heard about A Wicked Thing, I was intrigued. I love the idea of stripping away the less realistic aspects of fairy tales. The happily-ever-after and love-at-first-sight parts are what I take issue with, not the actual fantasy part - ever since I started reading works from the Realist literary period, I've started to examine stories and look at how the characters act and if realism in the character's actions are sacrificed for a happier, easier (but often false) ending. I've always been a little wary of the Sleeping Beauty tale; in the original story, the princess awakes from a hundred year's worth of sleep to find some random prince kissing her and declaring that she is his true love, not to mention the fact that everyone she's ever known is dead. I always imagined that if I were in that situation, the prince would have definitely have (at least) a broken nose within the first three seconds of consciousness. Additionally, I don't exactly think I'd react very well to finding out that everyone I have ever known is dead. To a certain extent, I think every fairy tale is twisted and wrong, but (for fairly obvious reasons) I've never liked Sleeping Beauty - the fairy tale, the Disney movie, anything. That is, I've never really enjoyed any form of the classic fairy tale until I read A Wicked Thing.
While Aurora doesn't react quite as...violently as I would imagine I would in the situation, she certainly doesn't believe the nonsensical notions of 'happily-ever-after' she's being fed by the new royal family. In addition to suddenly being kissed by a prince and discovering the death of anyone she ever met, she finds out that her kingdom has gone to shambles and been conquered by several different kings over that past century - the proverbial icing on the cake of bad news. She's dazed and confused, and desperately trying to process her traumatic situation. Torn between different paths - marrying her designated prince, joining the revolution with an attractive young man, or escaping with the dashing, roguish prince of a distant kingdom - she must ultimately decide to do what's best for her, even if it means doing so alone. The ending doesn't necessarily fully give the reader closure - not in an obvious cliffhanger way, but without the cliché, saccharine happy ending that can feel false or cheap. I had a distinct feeling that while her story isn't over (confirmed by the GoodReads page, which shows that this is the first book in a series), this is simply where this part of her story ends. As odd as it may seem to call a fantasy book a realist work, the novel (and the main character) felt decidedly genuine throughout the novel.
A Wicked Thing is a fresh and honest take on the story of Sleeping Beauty, a great pick for those who love books with strong heroines or enjoy retellings of classic fairy tales. I'm definitely excited for where the series is going and will eagerly await the release of the next novel.
Carolyn is a high school junior who stops by on Fridays to share about books she's reading and book related fun stuff. You can follow her on twitter: @yalitfriday