When I found this book on sale at a local bookstore, I grabbed it to add to this challenges reading pile, especially as a contrast to the Godmother books written by Elizabeth Scarborough. Both women have found unique ways of dealing with traditional fairy tale themes in a humourous and most UNtraditional way. Unlike the last review, this novel actually IS a Harlequin novel since the company owns the Luna Books Division that publishes these fantasy novels… but they are a far cry for the standard format that fills so many bookstore and library shelves.
The Sleeping Beauty falls into the series known as “A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms” which began with the The Fairy Godmother in 2004. The theory behind the series is an interesting one. There are 500 kingdoms where Tradition has become a mindless and powerful force that seeks to push characters into the legendary fairy tale roles. The only defense against utter and total chaos are the Godmothers. Women who know how to coax the Tradition into certain outcomes through magic, wit or sheer dumb luck.
The Sleeping Beauty deals with a wonderfully funny mix of all the sleeping maiden legends from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to the more obscure Valkyrie Fire Maiden stories. Rosamund is a princess whose life has fallen apart at 16 thanks to the Tradition killing off her mother. After a Huntsman chases Rosa into the woods and tries to kill her, The Fairy Godmother of her Kingdom, who has long befriended the family, tries to bend Tradition to her will by disguising herself as someone else and assuming the role of the Evil Stepmother. After taking the princess into her confidence and revealing the ruse, they decide that the best solution might be to stage a “Sleeping Beauty” event . The only problem is that TWO handsome men show up in the clearing at the same time. With the sudden death of the King on the borders, invasion or conquer seems imminent. How can a young woman and a desperate Fairy Godmother keep their enemies at bay and still satisfy the Tradition’s longing to create a very Happy or Unhappy ending?
Mercedes Lackey knows how to create great characters and this was one of her funniest adventures yet. Though the subtle and not so subtle humour may not come as naturally to her as writers like Tanya Huff, she does a wonderful and entertaining job of constantly turning the Fairy Tales we all know and love upside down, sideways and inside out. I found myself laughing out loud so many times during this story that I may have to go back and reread some of the earlier books in the series. Since each one stands alone, I can just pick and choose which Fairy Tale I’d like to see her mangle… and I can’t wait to hunt down the newest one in this series Beauty and the Werewolf!
The Sleeping Beauty, paperback format, 408 pages, published in 2010 by Harlequin’s Luna Books division