Friday 24 April 2015

Briar Rose by Jana Oliver

A dark and sexy reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the author of THE DEMON TRAPPERS.

For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She's stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won't let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who's spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She's tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she's actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes . . . And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can't do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she's met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.

I expected a lot from this. It sounded great: a girl who loves and wants to live in a fairytale falls victim to an old curse and a family feud. She falls into a deep sleep the night before her 16th birthday and wakes up in a world of her own creation. Of course, nothing can be simple and the world is part Sleeping Beauty, part Hunger Games. 

In general, I liked the story; it was a very cool idea, especially that Briar needs to save herself and her friends offer serious help. However, I was continually disappointed by Briar. She was sweet and trusting and could hold her own, but she never actually did anything herself! One of the boys saved her, and she let them, every time! She also fell too easily in love with Ruric - I know he saved her but she didn't need to fling herself at him. 

I liked Briar's friends more than I did her; best friend Reena was a witch in training and did the spell to get them all in Briar's dream world to save her butt. And Josh was incredibly sweet, maybe a little too convenient, but protective and surprisingly strong. Then there was long time crush Pat, who was a huge douche but when he was sucked into the dream world too, he had the chance to redeem himself. I don't really know why he seemed to miraculously change for the better, but I liked him much more by the end. Both the boys and Ruric, prince pretending to be a stable hand, were always just where they needed to be to save the day. As much as I loved the story, things fell into places a little too easily. 

Ignoring how utterly un-hero like Briar was, I did quite like this. It was a good story, full of adventure and a bit of mystery, plus some fear and violence for good measure. The mix of characters was extraordinary and the plot line was well paced with an epic battle at the end. A good twist on fairy tales but a disappointing lead. 

Published 12th September 2013 by Macmillan Children's Books.

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