I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. And so begins Elise Dalriss's story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrel's tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered - and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago. Her story unveils a labyrinth where secrets connect to an inconceivable evil. As only Elise understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale...
©2014 Elizabeth Blackwell (P)2014 Tantor
"Blackwell, previously a reporter and romance writer, makes her historical fiction debut with a gripping tale full of romance, secrets, and promises made and broken. This beautiful, original reinterpretation of a classic story is engrossing and often surprising." (Library Journal Starred Review)
"Narrator Wanda McCaddon clearly understands the emotional arc of Blackwell's story and gives a moving performance." (AudioFile)
I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say this: surprisingly depressing.
The best parts of this story are the characters. Every character is motivated by complex and completely relatable experiences. No decision ever seemed innately flawed, it's really easy to understand, but the series of choices leads to some dark situations.
I will warn you, this book is not for the faint of heart. It is not light hearted at all. But if you can get through it, it is very very good. It left me with all sorts of feelings for days
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
WHILE HOPE THRIVES IN THE LIGHT.
Did I read a fantasy with black magic or did I listen to a highly entertaining dark tale with characters who knew how to fool people in to thinking they performed magic? I think I know, but I am not 100% sure.
This is done in first person from the point of view of a servant of the queen and princess. Most things can be explained through deduction, but some things might be magic. This reminded me a lot of Robin Hobb's writing. The main characters are well developed. Young Elsie could easily be confused with Fitz in Hobb's Farseer trilogy. Like real life not everything turns out the way you want it to. The characters are complicated, not cookie cutter cut outs. I loved every minute of it and can't wait for Blackwell to come out with something else at Audible.
This is less fairly tale and more story. Sleeping beauty plays a minor part. It also is a story about a strong woman who like some women of today, had to decide between her love life and her career. If you like books with a strong female lead, this is the book for you. Change a few things and this could easily be a story about a woman of today.
Narrator is exceptional and made the experience that much more.
This re-envisioned telling of Sleeping Beauty satisfied both my need for depth in details and well done characters. Only the end, while the logical conclusion given the characters, felt like a let down. Perhaps it is just a matter of too much happy ending and not enough fulfillment of duty for my Puritanical soul.
Wanda McCaddon's narration was wonderful and brought the story to life
I liked this updated, revisionist interpretation of a fairy tale. The story retained the feel of a fairy tale but also had scenes of devastation and poverty that gave it realism
Yes, there were several emotional moments. ( I don't want to give any spoilers)
I was expecting a gritty fairy tale, but instead heard a story with no magic and no real happiness. There is almost no joy in the 12 hour book, and what little there is becomes negated by the incessant doomsday foreshadowing. Overall a depressing book that plodded through tragedy after tragedy.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
This is a nice retreat of Sleeping Beauty with some very lifelike twists. It's a pleasant read. Enjoy!
I plodded through 5 hours of the first-person 'narrative,' thinking that any minute the story would 'start,' but simply couldn't take it anymore. Zero character development. Zero originality (I like these sorts of fantasies so the plot seemed to have promise when I read the publisher's summary, but the characters behave along extremely stereotypical lines). The combination made for a very boring listen. I am planning to get my credit back.
Skip this one and read "Enchantment" by Orson Scott Card.
While Beauty Slept is a Sleeping Beauty story told from the perspective of one of the royal family's most trusted servants as she looks back on her years of service in her old age.
Elise Dalriss begins her tale at the beginning of her life. A life that was hard and touched with sorrow when she was a child. After her mother's death she leaves for the castle. Elise quickly rises in the ranks and is soon serving the queen herself.
Elizabeth Blackwell's version of Sleeping Beauty is more realistic than most versions of this fairy tale, and it was interesting to read a version that imagines what Sleeping Beauty would be without the magic and the fairies.
Blackwell populates her novel with a terrific cast of female characters who, although limited in their options and forced to make difficult decisions because of the limitations placed on women in a medieval/ Renaissance setting, are also powerful and capable.
This is the back story of Sleeping Beauty. Wonderfully written and performed. Great reading and entertainment for teens through adults.
This was a bittersweet story. The "true" tale of sleeping beauty, told from the perspective of a woman who found herself a witness to and was entangled in the joys and tragedies which befell the royal family. The story she recounts has a sense of impending danger and lingering darkness ahead, which kept me on edge and unable to pause for fear of what lurked in the next chapter and needing to see it through to the end. Elise's fate was so entwined with that of the court, and she had a supporting role at every major event - only she could tell the story, and only she could have ensured the ultimate resolution.
The hatred of Millicent was so fervent it made me shudder just to hear of her deeds and fear her words and influence. The same terror struck me at her return as it did Elise.
I enjoyed the story of Elise and Marcus very much. I was worried that Rose would be heartbroken, knowing she would have to forgo happiness in the name of duty one day, and I felt sorry for her. I can't even imagine what that kind of life would have been like.
Anyway, without giving up plot details, I can say that the evil was great and it was a very long and hard battle with many great losses. Such a tragic fate, all because of one spiteful, bitter, scornful old woman who was so self righteous and imperious that the lives of others (the family or the kingdom) meant nothing to her, all she cared was that she held the power.
As arduous and tear jerking as it was, peace was found at last, and I think there could have been no better ending.
Narration was superb, it really felt like hearing a grandmother's story. She adapted appropriate voices, consistently and skillfully. A great performance.
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