Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review: The Wide-Awake Princess

Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie—blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic—can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen's true love to kiss her awake.

But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn't possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father's guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own. Quoted from Goodreads


Reading Cinder and Scarlet put me in the mode for more fractured/retold fairy tales.  Now, I did have to resort to a middle-grade book to find a good one I haven't read, but it's totally worth it. This is such a adorable, sweet read. Honestly, sometimes I forget how much I can love middle-grade books.  The romance is uncomplicated, the worlds have an element of the bizarre, and there isn't that over abundance of angst that plagues some YA books. 

So, basically this book is just fun.  It crams a whole bunch of fairy tales into one story, beginning with Sleeping Beauty, but covering Hansel and Gretel, the Frog Prince, the Princess and the Pea, Snow White and Rose Red, Rapunzel, and a slew of other ones I can't remember right now.  None of them were told in their entirety, but each one got it's own special twist.  

Plus, I really like Annie's curse/blessing.  It makes her a fun character, and while it's almost too powerful, it helps teach a really good lesson.  It's interesting exploring a world where almost every character has some kind of magic and how it affects society's views.  It's especially interesting with Annie's family, who force her into a corner so they won't ever appear less than beautiful by being close to her field of no magic.

As for the world, well, there are some aspects you just sort of have to accept, such as all the neighboring kingdoms are only one or two days walk away and they all have princes of marriageable age. Other than that, it's plain fun, with a forgetful witch, who has to remind herself with notes to each children and a frog prince who's the father of Hansel and Gretel (aka Thomas and Clara). 

All in all, this is a quick, fun read.  It's full of whimsy and fun slants on familiar stories.  There's also a dash of romance between Annie and Liam, even though Annie's trying to focus on finding her sister's one true love.  If you're a fan of fairy tales, I would absolutely check this out.  It's a delightful, light 4 stars for me, and is especially good for younger readers.

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