Sub-categories: 2016, LGBTQIA, Small Publisher
On the eve of my sixteenth year, I’m cursed to prick my finger on spindle and fall into a hundred year sleep. This is what the witch with the snow white skin and haunting dark eyes promised me, as I lay in my cradle. I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind, since. She haunts my dreams, steals into my quiet moments, when I think I’m alone. Everyone thinks she’s my enemy. Everyone thinks I need to be protected from her. I can’t think of her as an enemy, no matter what anyone else thinks. Who is she, truly? The only name she’s ever been given are a few, enigmatic words. The fairest of them all.
I knew I was in for a hard time within the first couple pages, already mentally editing sentences as I read. Fortunately, this is not a long story so my suffering wasn’t too drawn-out.
The best thing I can say? This was an interesting concept, having a (sort of) love triangle between Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella. The idea that enchanted sleep would change the victim and give them magical powers? Also could’ve been very cool. The execution, however, left much to be desired.
The biggest issue I had, aside from basic writing technique, was the sheer volume of abuse apologism contained in this story. Just… the sheer number of times the protagonist claimed the so-called “good” witch, despite all the horrible things she did, really cared about the “evil” witch, honest. Seriously, you’re hearing about all these abusive behaviours and still haven’t latched onto the fact it’s abuse?
Hell, some of the abuse elements could’ve worked if they’d actually be treated with the gravity they deserved, rather than having the protagonist mentally hand-waving everything she was told.
Speaking of telling, there’s a reason the phrase “show, don’t tell” exists. This book is an exercise in what not to do. The protagonist somehow being in love with the “evil” witch who cursed her could’ve possibly worked if so many of the things that created a connection between them hadn’t been glossed over with a few sentences in a prologue. There were also a few convenient things that were brought up at the end of the story to help the protagonist get what she wanted that honestly should’ve been hinted at earlier so they didn’t come off as something of a deus ex machina.
Because neither witch really had a redemption arc that I found particularly believable, the ending seemed rather off to me. However, there was one line I thought was pretty great:
“As Lord Harold said, we are a queer couple. If you’d like to honor our queerness, please feel free to join us, with someone you might not normally dance with at a ball.”
I tried to find the positives in this story, but they were few and far between. An occasional good line here and there, and an interesting concept. This could have been a good book and I’m rather sad I found it lacking.