Published by Gollancz on December 10th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling
Sleeping Beauty has woken.
The world has been renewed.
Everyone is living happily ever after . . .
Sharp, blood-seeking thorns still surround the castle. A feud remains between those who wield magic and those who were subjected to it. And while the kingdom is divided against itself, nothing can thrive.
A rebellion may be needed - and that's where Sleeping Beauty's daughter comes in . . .
Fair is fair, although I wasn’t completely in love with Sheehan’s first book A Long, Long Sleep, I decided to give her another shot with Spinning Thorns. Though it’s ANOTHER Sleeping Beauty retelling, that’s one of my favorite fairy tales. And with this cute of a cover, I could hardly resist. But in this case… I wish I had.
Spinning Thorns puts another spin on Sleeping Beauty (see wut I did thur). In this version, our main character is one of the original Sleeping Beauty’s daughters. She’s awoken, but the thorns around the castle remain and the kingdom has come into political and economic turmoil after being without their monarchs for so long. The story is told from two points of view: Willow, the princess, and an Unnamed fairy, who plots for the demise of the royal family.
You’d think – hey, that sounds like a hate-to-love thing that’s sure to be promising. Yes and no. As far as the romance goes, this book was rather frustrating. Willow is in love with her sister’s betrothed, which is hopelessly unrequited and ridiculously intense for a relationship that amounts to one conversation between the two where he happened to be nice to her. (Seriously. And she seriously says she’s in love with him because of that.) Her sister and this dude are GROSSLY in love with each other. Like serious crying “I can’t live without the other” constantly touching each other and flirting and singing the other’s praises and whatever… Ugh. Get a fucking room. And lock the door so I can’t walk in on that anymore. So Willow and the Unnamed fairy (who she dubs Reynard because he reminds her of a fox, how creative) do start off hating each other… and eventually grow to care for each other. But it took way too long to get there for me to still care. I did not really have shippy feels.
That’s also because I care so little for these characters. Like holy crap, they’re not cardboard but they’re not super voice-y or dynamic. Willow I should logically be cheering on because she’s not a helpless, delicate princess and she actually has more of a manly, giant figure. But she’s so negative about that all the time that I’m just side-eyeing her. Reynard is so wrapped up in mystery and hatred that I *should* like him, but I dunno. I probably liked his part of the story more than Willow’s but I still didn’t care too much for it.
Overall this story just kind of bored me. It wasn’t so bad that I felt like quitting, probably because in a sense there was enough happening to keep the plot moving forward. Willow wants to learn magic, so she can also help to take care of the thorns, and Reynard kind of helps her learn about magic when it’s been outlawed for so long. Then another Sleep falls upon the palace and it gets pretty chaotic. Magic becomes outlawed again, political battles are waged with betrothals, treaties, and the like, and the relationship between Willow and her family is put to the test.
So the premise, I guess, was interesting enough, but the execution never got me on the edge of my seat. I was lacking the voice to get drawn into the personal conflict and mindset of the characters. I was very much on the outside, looking in. And that’s something I seem to remember having with A Long, Long Sleep as well. I liked that one more, but maybe overall Sheehan’s writing style lacks something for me – depth or characterization or a general “feelsy” quality. I dunno. I feel very meh about this book.